June 7, 2020
In a matter of hours, our news feed shifted from crowds exercising their right to gather to celebrate the holiday weekend despite the threat of coronavirus to crowds exercising their right to gather in protest the death of a Black man at the hands of a White cop despite the threat of violence.
We’re all struggling. We feel a profound sadness for the senseless deaths of George Floyd and too many others as well as an intense anger for the pervasive and persistent systemic inequities and racism in our country.
Racism is a social determinant of health. In Kansas, 12% of the population is Hispanic and 6% is non-Hispanic Black.1 Race impacts children from infancy through high school and beyond. Infant mortality rates for Hispanic and Black babies are 1.5 times and 3 times that of White babies and while 86% of White students graduate from high school, only 80% of Hispanic and 75% of Black students do.
The Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that racism threatens the safe and supportive environments children need to grow and thrive. Children learn by watching and what they are seeing is violence on TV as well as in their own neighborhoods. As leaders in our communities, we can’t just stand by. It’s imperative that through both words and actions we advocate for policies and practices that improve the health and wellbeing of minority children because the opportunity to grow up happy and healthy should not be dependent on skin color.
One starting place for this important work is the 2019 AAP Policy Statement on the Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health. While focused on the role of racism in child development, the policy provides concrete actions to take in clinical care, education, advocacy and research. This may be uncomfortable work particularly for those of us categorized with 80% of the population of Kansas as White. Confronting racism requires acknowledging the problem, identifying your own personal biases, dialoging with colleagues, and really listening to your patients and families.
If you are wondering what else you can do, here are some of our suggestions:
Read up on racism and disparities:
- AAP Policy Statement on Racism
- ‘Dismantle racism at every level’: AAP President
- AAP: Commentary: Pediatricians called to address racism, intolerance to achieve health equity
- AAP: Traumatic Impact of Racism on Young People
- Anti-Racist Reading List
- APHA: Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue
- Pediatrics: Police, Equity and Child Health
- Campaign Zero: Policy Solutions to End Police Violence
- Teaching Tolerance: Six Steps to Speak Up
- The Praxis Podcast with Edwin Lindo, JD
Encourage families to engage with their children about these recent events:
- View the Sesame Street Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism, a town hall for kids and families.
- Talking to Children About Tragedies & Other News Events
- American Academy of Pediatrics Condemns Racism, Offers Advice for Families for How to talk to their Children
- Read age appropriate books on the subject. Anti-Racism For Kids 101: Starting To Talk About Race
- Talking with Children About Police Brutality
- Coloring Pages: Here, Here, and Here
- Book: Read Aloud on YouTube ‘Something Happened in Our Town’
- Podcast: Raising Free People
Encourage families and children to play:
- Play is a buffer for toxic stress and is critical for children’s growth and development. Families can download a printable Play at Home Playbook that features games with little to no equipment.
- Review education and advocacy materials from the AAP and the KAAP
- Send us your resource suggestions.