Ohio Children’s Hospital Association Position Statement on Firearm Injury Prevention for Ohio’s Children
The following statement can be attributed to Nick Lashutka, President & CEO, Ohio Children’s Hospital Association:
The Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and our six members – Akron Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Dayton Children’s Hospital, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital, and UH/Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital – are committed to the safety, health and well-being of every child. Firearm injuries are a threat to that well-being. It has become a significant public health crisis.
Just as we have studied and acted on any public safety or healthcare crisis, we must study and act on firearm injuries in a process-driven, research-based way. First and foremost, we join our colleagues throughout the country in calling for federal funding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and others on research into firearm injuries. We must move this conversation beyond the political to an evidence-based approach, just as we do all public health crises. As academic medical centers and children’s hospitals, we study the issue, research and develop possible solutions, test those solutions and eventually discover prevention and cures. We believe the following principles should stand as a foundation of any proposed research-based solutions:
- We must identify and support violence prevention programs, addressing the needs of at-risk children and children exposed to violence.
- We must ensure children and families have access to appropriate mental and behavioral health services.
- We must equip healthcare providers to have effective, non-threatening conversations with their patients and families about firearm safety. Currently, we are proud to support the innovative work already being done by the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics on this issue – working to bring all sides of the firearm safety issue together – pediatricians, families and firearm rights advocates. Working together and putting aside politics, these organizations have created a program called Store It Safe, which educates pediatricians about how to have an effective conversation with families about safe firearm storage and about talking to their children about firearm safety. .
- We must support enactment of common-sense firearm safety policies, including encouraging safe storage of firearms, improving background check processes, and enhancing protections for domestic violence victims and law enforcement to ensure those who pose a danger to others or themselves do not have easy access to firearms.
The Ohio General Assembly is currently considering several bills on this topic, including Ohio House Bill 585 & Senate Bill 288, companion bills crafted based on Governor Kasich’s task force recommendations. Many of the provisions of this legislation are consistent with our principles, and we look forward to working with the Ohio General Assembly and the Administration as these policies move forward in the legislative process. Our goal is to help protect Ohio’s children from firearm injuries at home, at school and in their communities.
As children’s hospitals, we give young people their best opportunities for healthy lives. For the sake of our kids and our country’s future, we must work to end the public health crisis of firearm injuries in an effective way that goes beyond a political agenda and focuses on research-based evidence to prevent firearm-related injuries, accidental deaths and suicides in children and youth.