As the leading cause of death for children in the United States, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) recognizes that firearm violence is a national epidemic impacting children of all races, gender, ethnicity and sexuality and occurring in all communities. With fewer than half of U.S. homes with guns engaging in safe storage practices, there is an urgent need to create impactful change to combat firearm violence and injury in children.
“As front-line providers, our members see the devastating physical and mental impact that gun violence has on children and their families,” said NAPNAP President Jennifer Sonney, PhD, APRN, PPCNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN. “We must continue to address this national crisis through our practice and advocacy efforts in order to alleviate the impact of firearm violence on pediatric patients.”
As a community of pediatric health care leaders and trusted sources for providing anticipatory guidance, NAPNAP advocates for firearm injury prevention and safety through a series of recommendations. In practice, NAPNAP recommends provider education about firearm safety, including proper storage practices in all homes, and routine suicide screenings at all patient encounters with children over 12. NAPNAP also encourages adverse childhood event screenings and incorporating principles of trauma-informed care for children and families that experience violence.
Through advocacy and policy change efforts, NAPNAP promotes community awareness of firearm safety and partnering with schools, hospitals, and community-based organizations to support youth resiliency and trauma-informed care programs. In addition, NAPNAP calls for effective collaboration efforts to advocate for funding for mental health screenings, firearm lock distribution programs, innovative technology for securing firearms, and furthering current programs aimed at researching and tracking firearm violence would allow for the implementation of violence prevention programs.
Pediatric health care providers must continue to advocate for legislation requiring universal background checks, the ban of assault weapons and the creation of measures to address firearm trafficking in addition to enacting a federal ban on the sale, importation, or transfer of modifiers.
The position statement, including additional recommendations, is published in the January/February edition of the Journal of Pediatric Health Care and can be accessed here.
Jan. 12, 2023