On the National Student Walkout

March 14, 2018

Dear Members of the RBHS Community:

In response to the national school walkout to bring attention to gun violence in the United States, several RBHS schools organized and participated in campus events today in Newark and Piscataway. To support our students, faculty, and staff and their message to our national leaders, I made the following comments in Piscataway:

We are here today in response to a public health crisis. Tragically, the victims of this crisis are among the most vulnerable members of our society. Their care is entrusted to us as parents, educators, and health care professionals. And yet because of politics, we have been unable to prevent these very preventable tragedies.

As a clinician, I have seen the damage gun violence wreaks on the human body.

As an epidemiologist, I can attest that the gun violence statistics in our nation are chilling. Some of our cities, including several right here in New Jersey, look more akin to war zones than industrialized, first-world countries. We are an enormous outlier in the world.

As someone interested in global health, I can tell you that the rest of the world looks at us, our statistics, and our policies, with confusion and dismay.

As a researcher, I am distressed that the politics involved are also systematically suppressing the free and open scientific inquiry into this very real health issue at the CDC and the NIH. We as scientists, health care professionals, and public health officials are being blocked from using the analytical and clinical tools at our disposal to save children's lives. I am delighted that in yesterday's address, our new governor has announced an initiative to change that, funding a new research center on gun violence.

We are all here because we are frustrated, frightened, and fed up. My great hope is that this message, your message, finally reaches those with the power and authority to take action and that on multiple levels we can stop the next tragedy from occurring.

I commend you and your student colleagues throughout RBHS for taking a stand on one of the defining public health issues of our time. In particular, I also commend you for your professionalism of how you are doing so with respect for the time of your faculty, student colleagues, and our patients, who are always our first responsibility. You make me proud.

As a nation, we should not have to bear witness to yet another slaughter of our children. We are parents, brothers, sisters, educators, and health care professionals and we stand united today for common sense action.

Sincerely,

Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH