While the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent social distancing guidelines have been a novel source of extreme stress and uncertainty, the recent deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery (as well as the harassment of Christian Cooper) are stark reminders that, for many in our community, the immediate sense of potential danger and fear have always been present.

As pediatricians, we work with you on how to have difficult conversations with your children about all kinds of uncomfortable topics including death and divorce, puberty, sex, drugs, and alcohol. However, we may never have spoken to you or your kids about racism – their experience of it or their participation in it.

People who experience racism on a regular basis have no choice but to talk to their kids about it as it may literally be a matter of life and death. For the rest of us, looking the other way and avoiding the conversations has gotten us nowhere as a society – too many people have been hurt and too many lives have been lost. We have to do better.

We at Westwood-Mansfield Pediatrics support all our families and pledge to continue to care with love and compassion for all our community.

Please reach out to us if you have concerns about how your child is responding to these events. Our behavioral health clinicians and providers are available and trained to evaluate symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition, if you have suggestions for ways we can make your experience in our practice more comfortable, please email our practice manager Carol O’Neill (coneill@wmpeds.com) or your primary care provider if you prefer.

Below, we hope you will review some useful resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics about talking to your children about racism. Please take the time to read them.

In solidarity,
All of us at Westwood-Mansfield Pediatrics

Talking to Children about Racial Bias:
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Building-Resilience/Pages/Talking-to-Children-About-Racial-Bias.aspx

The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health:
https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/144/2/e20191765