Written By Jennifer Shaer MD, FAAP, FABM, IBCLC
Nobody would argue that there should be meaningful action after such a massacre. However, I would argue that the focus on gun control as that meaningful action is misguided.
Someone disturbed enough to walk into an elementary school and start shooting is going to find a way to inflict tragedy in one way or another. There will always be access to guns or bombs or whatever the device of destruction for those motivated to find them.
I am not saying that there should not be a meaningful discussion about gun control but the crux of the issue here is prevention.
You stop a tragedy like this by recognizing signs and intervening in the potential shooter before he becomes a shooter. What possesses a twenty year old young adult to walk into an elementary school and start shooting? An act like this does not come out of nowhere.
In the field of pediatrics, we are experts in prevention. We use vaccines to prevent life threatening illness. We support things like breastfeeding, exercise and helmets to promote wellness and safety.
However, when it comes to supporting mental health, we ourselves are ill prepared. In our busy pediatric offices we do not have the time or the advanced training to help our patients who need mental health support.
When we look to refer them to psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers all too often the patient cannot find one who takes their insurance.
Gun control or not, tragic incidents like this murder of so many innocents will not stop unless we figure out how to provide affordable and accessible mental health wellness to our children and young adults.
That is the meaningful action that needs to take place in the wake of this tragedy.
Dr. Shaer is a pediatrician and a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). She is director of the Breastfeeding Medicine Center of Allied Pediatrics of New York.