Over the weekend, we witnessed events in Philadelphia that were sad and painful for our community. The demonstrations that are occurring nationally and locally about racial injustice are distressing to us as parents and confusing for our children.
The current reality, unfolding over the past weeks, is that our children are bearing witness to events that bring us tremendous pain and sorrow. They may be scared, angry or in pain themselves, further complicated by the fact that they are already grieving the loss of friends, extended family and routines over the past months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We can help our children understand what is happening now in compassionate and supportive ways. First, children need to know that adults are comfortable discussing these concerning events, letting them know that we are also affected and that we will listen to them and be there for them. We can work hard to make sure their voices are heard in ways that are effective and life affirming. And, we should expect to hear hard truths borne from centuries of fear, agony and oppression.
Our CHOP family will continue celebrating the childhood dreams and future accomplishments of every patient in our care. We choose hope during times of despair and strive for a better world in which children of every background and every culture are given every chance to be safe and be healthy.
The conversations we will have as a result of these tragic times will bring us closer together and help us help children realize their dreams. And, together, we will mitigate the social and racial inequities that affect their health and well-being, today and in the future.
- Tami Benton, MD, Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia