The annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics was held from Oct. 25 to 29 in New Orleans and attracted approximately 12,000 participants from around the world, including primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists, pediatric surgical specialists, and other health care professionals. The conference featured scientific sessions that focused on the latest advances in the care of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults, as well as scientific papers, posters, and exhibits.
During one session, Verena W. Brown, M.D., of the Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, discussed how practicing clinicians should handle an adolescent or teen disclosing abuse.
“Children often do not disclose abuse until much later, sometimes in adulthood and sometimes never,” Brown said. “When they do try to disclose, it’s a process. When talking to children about their experiences, be reassuring and ask open-ended questions.”
Brown suggests that practicing clinicians try to avoid leading questions and stay calm, while maintaining neutral facial expressions. In addition, Brown recommends that clinicians should reassure children that they are being heard and believed.
During another session, Alyssa H. Silver, M.D., of Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in Bronx, New York, discussed what pediatricians can do to address firearm safety among adolescents and teens.
“As pediatricians, part of our job is to partner with parents to protect children and keep them healthy and safe. We can do this through advocacy, our clinical practice and clinical care of patients, education of ourselves and the next generation of pediatricians, and research,” Silver said. “We know that most often firearm-related injuries in young children are unintentional and in older children are more likely intentional in the context of suicide or homicide. Both of these point towards the importance of safe storage and preventing access to guns in older children, particularly in teens who may be impulsive.”
According to Silver, safe storage means keeping guns locked, with the safest option being keeping guns unloaded and with the ammunition locked up separately.
“Pediatricians can use our voices to advocate for effective legislation, which includes universal background checks, child access protection, and extreme risk protection order laws. We need more research to better study firearm-related legislation. Local and community level advocacy is also important,” Silver said. “Pediatricians should counsel patients and families on safe firearm storage and screen for access to guns for high-risk populations (kids who are victims of bullying, mental health concerns, violence risk factors, gang participation, etc.). Similarly, we should encourage parents to ask about any unsecured guns in the homes of others when their children go there to play or spend time.”