March 9 2018 10:46 PM

Dear Pennsylvania AAP Members,

On March 8th, AAP President Dr. Colleen Kraft outlined the AAP's plan of action to mobilize pediatricians and support the efforts of youth and families, as we advocate together for more comprehensive firearm policies and safer communities. We hope you received that inspiring e-mail. Amidst the tragedy of the school shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month, many of us are left wondering, "What can I do as a pediatrician or pediatrician-in-training in PA?" and "How can all AAP members stand in solidarity to protect our nation's children?" National policymakers continue to discuss possible solutions to firearm violence, and the Academy's advocacy efforts are in full force, with visits to Capitol Hill and strong media efforts.

AAP President Colleen A. Kraft, MD, FAAP and David Schonfeld, MD, FAAP spoke out in support of the student survivors in a letter to the editorof The New York Times, emphasizing that pediatricians stand with them. The national AAP will continue to advocate for comprehensive policy solutions, including increased public health research funding, universal background checks, improved mental health services, bans on assault weapons with high capacity magazines, safe storage of firearms, and physician counseling, and the PA Chapter has committed to join them.

PA AAP State Advocacy Day

Firearm violence prevention will be the focus of our PA AAP State Advocacy Day on Friday, April 27th. Pediatricians and pediatricians-in-training from around the state will meet with legislators to discuss how to keep our children safe from gun violence. Adding our voices to those of the young people who are speaking up and leading this effort is vital. We need your presence and voice in Harrisburg to help us create change! Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are able to join us or would like more information!

 

Act Now

 

Here's what you can do NOW to advance gun violence prevention efforts for children:

 

Advocate in 5 minutes:

 

 

  • Address firearms safety as part of your routine anticipatory guidance with children of all ages. Ask about the presence of firearms in the home, and counsel parents who do keep firearms to store them unloaded in a locked case, with the ammunition locked and stored separately. Advise families to remove firearms from the home of any child or teenager who is depressed, and consider utilizing the brochure, Guidance for Parents: Gun Safety, from the Section on Pediatric Trainees (SOPT).

 

  • Register to vote. The deadline for registering to vote in Pennsylvania is 30 days before an election, and primary elections will be held on May 15, 2018.  In our state Senate, 25 of 50 seats are up for election. In our state House, all 203 seats are up for election. Pennsylvania will also hold elections for governor and lieutenant governor this year. In addition, voters will decide who will hold each of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional district seats as well as one of our state’s seats in the US Senate.
  • Call our legislators. To find and contact your state representative and senator, use this helpful tool. To reach your members of Congress, please call and the operator will direct you to the DC offices of your federal legislators.
    • Leave a message saying you are a pediatrician living, training, or practicing in their district (a constituent) and you’re reaching out to work together to advance common sense legislation to protect children from gun violence. Always end your conversation with a call to action or an ask, your contact information, and an email follow-up/thank you.
    • Calls make a bigger impact than e-mails - each one is logged!
    • Resources that provide an excellent summary of AAP policy, related facts, and talking points include:
    • Coming soon - we can help with talking points if needed, and most will be drawn from the AAP policy statement below.

 

 

Advocate in 15 minutes

 

 

 

  • Children deserve to be safe wherever they are. We as practicing and future pediatricians can help our patients feel safe and cope with tragedies such as school shootings. Review resources to assist pediatricians here.
  • Consider writing an opinion editorial (op-ed) or letter to the editor for your local newspaper explaining why it is important to find comprehensive policy solutions to protecting children from firearm violence. Op-eds are an effective medium to communicate your opinion and personal experience about a timely issue. They are typically 400-600 words in length, though it is always important to check with the individual publication for specific length requirements.

 

Advocate in half a day

 

 

    • Find a march in your community, or travel to Washington, DC
    • Wear your white coats, make signs, and stand in solidarity with the students
    • If you are unable to participate, consider having a 17-second moment of silence during morning rounds to honor the victims and maintain awareness at your hospitals
    • The AAP will also be having activities, such as a Twitter storm, on that day -- be on the lookout for more information

 

Thank you for your passionate advocacy for children. Together we can unite as PA pediatricians and pediatricians-in-training to advocate for this timely and important cause. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or ideas!

 

--

 

Christian D. Pulcini, MD, MEd, MPH
PA AAP Advocacy Committee Co-Chair
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Jeannette Tepper, MD
PA AAP Advocacy Committee Co-Chair
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Acknowledgement to Rachel Nash, Executive Coordinator of Child Health for the Section on Pediatric Trainees (SOPT) for assistance in composing the above and compiling resources.