November 28 2018 8:59 AM Deborah Moss, MD, MPH, FAAP

Dr. MossShots Rang Out in my Neighborhood: The Morning of October 27th

I live in Pittsburgh very near the synagogue where Saturday morning, a shooter killed 11 people and injured at least 6 others. One of the weapons used was an assault rifle.

How can we make sense of this? What are we to do? Instead of writing about advocacy for firearm legislation, I have something else on my mind.

As pediatricians, the pressing question is what should we do to protect our children from the near daily language of hate and the too frequent violence that they are exposed to? How do we help parents raise kids who are healthy ‐ not afraid, happy ‐ not hostile, thriving and resilient?

Something I heard at a recent lecture on toxic stress by Dr. Paula Powe might provide a small bit o guidance. (The recording of the full CME Program and this lecture will be posted on our website soon.)

I learned about the "Strange Situation" study that first demonstrated how healthy infant attachment significantly impacts how a child will explore, learn, and handle stress and challenging situations as he/she grows up. And that healthy attachment depends on parents' responsiveness to their child. Parents can't raise kids in a bubble; they can't protect them from all disappointments, stress, or traumatic events. But they CAN provide children with a positive, supportive, loving relationship, by being a caring and responsive adult in their lives. This is the most important factor in protecting our children.

Here's where pediatricians come in. Of all the anticipatory guidance we provide‐‐ the counseling about healthy eating, talking about sleep and safety, discussing school and discipline‐‐probably what matters most in what we do is talking to parents about healthy parenting. We have the opportunity to talk about what parent responsiveness looks like, about parents loving and protecting their children, and how to listen to them and talk to them. And we can educate ourselves and the parents we see about positive parenting strategies.

I also learned about how to talk to kids about traumatic events. Here are a few resources from:

As always, if you have questions or ideas, please don't hesitate to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Annette Myarick (Executive Director) at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Looking forward to seeing many of you at the NCE! Safe travels.


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Deb Moss

Deborah Moss, MD, MPH, FAAP President 2018‐2020