Reblogged from Dr. Arthur Lavin of Advanced Pediatrics at

As many of us turn our attention to the holidays, we will hug our children tightly and be thankful for our blessings. We know that others will not be so fortunate. I pray for their comfort and to help us make real progress in 2013 against the issues plaguing our country. Dr. Lavin provides excellent guideposts here:


The tragedy of Newtown, Connecticut sears our hearts and tears at our minds.

Since the outrage of December 14, we have all been overwhelmed by how to respond.

As a person, I share the grief we all feel, and concern for the impact of this outrage on all it has touched.

As a doctor, I am compelled to respond. It is in its ability to prevent needless tragedy that the medical profession is at its best. Why wouldn’t the medical profession want to offer its best in response to the senseless loss of life in Connecticut? Particularly since without doing something, it is likely to happen again.

You might consider an expectation of this happening again too pessimistic, but consider that in our nation, nearly 3,000 children are killed every year by being shot. Compare this to the number of law enforcement officers who lose their lives every year across the country by being attacked, 75, and it becomes rapidly clear that something is so wrong, it may be time to do something about it. As a pediatrician, American, and person, I can no longer ignore the urgency of protecting the next child’s life.

I have talked to many people since December 14, people from across the political spectrum, and for once I have found complete agreement- this must stop. We may disagree on what will stop it, but everyone seems to agree that it is no longer acceptable.

And here is where the power of the medical profession may prove important. Doctors have responded to a large number of causes of needless death, at times with dramatic success. It is time for our profession to turn such expertise to this epidemic afflicting our children, and communities. The process is always the same:

1) Determine the cause(s).
2) Determine the mechanism of how the cause(s) actually cause the problem.
3) Measure a variety of interventions to prove which one(s) work, and implement the best intervention(s).
If these three steps are not actually taken, then all we have is everyone’s opinion, lots of strong feelings, large collection of guesses, and no changes. Early indications are that the causes may be found in one or all three of the following categories: guns, mental health, culture of violence. It is not clear to me exactly what role each of these will play in actual solutions that work.

So we are supporting a serious look at what actually causes the completely senseless deaths of nearly 3,000 of our children every year. We support efforts to find how those causes operate. And once we know what works, we will be working with all families to implement the changes that will save lives.

The word gun has become controversial in our nation, I am reassured that the idea of saving a child’s life remains a point of broad agreement. I look forward to working together with our nation’s leading public health groups, physician’s organizations, and other groups to find a path toward changing our nation from one of the most dangerous for children to one of the safest. My expectation is that we may all be surprised at what will actually save lives, my mind certainly is committed to remain open to what will work. I remain hopeful that if a path is found that truly could assure saving nearly 3,000 children’s lives every year, that all of us would rush to support it.

The events in Newtown could tempt us to simply grieve. As my heart goes out the families of Newtown, and to all who grieve for them, I also find that these events urge us to go beyond grief towards action, actions that will truly spare other towns and neighborhoods this all too common American experience.

Dr. Arthur Lavin

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An Antidote to Our Empathy Deficit Disorder


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