The horror of this past week is not easily understood. First holiday shoppers in our own community and then school children and teachers in Connecticut were victims of mass murder. The Newtown tragedy was particularly jarring to those of us who have dedicated our lives to caring for children and families.
Through our daily work caring for seriously ill children at Doernbecher, we are accustomed to helping families through the pain and suffering that accompanies caring for a child facing long odds. However, when death comes so quickly and unexpectedly, we are at a loss for words. We find ourselves hurting, as many emotions that we don’t get the chance to deal with in our work rush to the surface.
At a time like this, we need to grieve – individually, as a community and as a nation. We also need to be more mindful of letting those we care for know how important they are to us. We need to give and receive a few more hugs this week, and we all need to take extra time and steps to let those we love know just how much they mean to us.
But if we only grieve, we dishonor the young lives we’ve lost. I believe we need to move on to action to improve ourselves, our communities and our nation. Our children deserve better.
The status quo is unacceptable:
- I believe we must fight a culture that glorifies violence as entertainment.
- I believe we must view gun violence as a public health issue and apply all the tools at our disposal to fight this epidemic.
- Finally, I believe we must examine and improve our mental health system so that help is more available to our young people before they break.
Together, we can rededicate ourselves to making America the very best country in the world to be a child.
H. Stacy Nicholson, M.D., M.P.H.
Professor and Credit Unions for Kids Chair
OHSU Department of Pediatrics
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital