December 20, 2013

As a pediatrician, I applaud The Post’s efforts to highlight the devastating effects that gun violence can inflict on children [“Not only Newtown,” front page, Dec. 14].

Many of the patients in my practice in Southeast Washington have been permanently and tragically affected by gun violence, either by losing a parent, witnessing a shooting or being exposed to gang violence. During my residency in California, I cared for a youngster wounded while protecting another child from a gun and for too many teens wounded in gang warfare.

Gun-violence prevention is similar to immunizations and seat-belt use; it is a public health issue that profoundly affects children. We must address gun violence by counseling parents about keeping their home environments safe, by advocating for strong state and federal policies to reduce gun violence and by ensuring adequate access to mental health services for potential perpetrators.

I know that we can do better. Certainly our children deserve better.

Aimee M. Grace, Washington

The writer is a fellow at the Children’s National Health System, formerly known as Children’s National Medical Center.