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April 2016

The Role of Pediatricians in the Face of Increasing Domestic Terrorism Threats

Author Affiliations
  • 1National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at the University of Southern California School of Social Work, Los Angeles
  • 2USC School of Social Work and Pediatrics, Los Angeles, California
JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(4):311-312. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.4758

“I realize I can’t send you a message every time Turkey’s in the news, but hope all is well and stay safe!” began the message I received from my younger daughter within a few hours of my arrival in Istanbul, upon her learning of a recent explosion of a pipe bomb in the Istanbul Metro. The shooting in San Bernardino, California—not far from my home in Los Angeles—followed the next day; the death toll of the US terrorist attack dwarfed that of the terrorist attack in Turkey. I remembered back to the text I had received from her only a couple weeks prior on the night of the terrorist attack in Paris—she was wondering if she should be concerned about going out that evening to a club in New York City. During our brief conversation prompted by her text, I acknowledged that although we can never guarantee safety, the risk of an attack at any single site is extremely low. Her response was simple. “I understand the risk is low, but it’s a bit higher than it was yesterday.” She went out that evening, but without my prompting, texted me when she returned home to let me know she was safe. It was not surprising then to read in the news that some are wondering if the recent terrorist attack in California has established a “new normal” related to terrorism in our country. If this is the case, what should the role of pediatricians be in helping children and families cope with this reality?

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