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AAP commits to supporting, protecting pediatricians’ health, well-being

February 27, 2023

AAP CEO Mark Del MontePediatrician advocates are experiencing stress, threats of violence and public attacks, and the AAP is committed to supporting and protecting their health and well-being, AAP CEO/Executive Vice President Mark Del Monte, J.D., wrote in a perspective in Pediatrics (

That cry for help came during last year’s annual Leadership Conference. The No. 1 resolution at the meeting asked the Academy to support pediatricians who are experiencing backlash for speaking out for the health and safety of children, the rights of their patients and the sanctity of the pediatrician/patient relationship, Del Monte wrote.

In response, the Board of Directors recently made protecting the safety and well-being within the pediatric profession a strategic priority (

In the perspective, Del Monte outlined other steps the Academy has taken to mitigate risks to patients and pediatricians, including the following:

  • filed briefs in state and federal courts;
  • testified before Congress;
  • spoken out in the media against the attacks and injustices;
  • joined groups such as the American Medical Association and Children’s Hospital Association to urge the U.S. attorney general and Department of Justice to investigate threats against physicians and hospitals; and
  • called on technology platforms to do more to stop hateful rhetoric that encourages harassment campaigns and threats of violence.

“Advocating can be hard. Sometimes it can be risky. Our members have been spat upon, cyberbullied, and victims of false, damaging online reviews,” Del Monte wrote in the perspective, which was adapted from his business meeting address at the 2022 National Conference & Exhibition.

He recounted challenges faced in the mid-1800s to early 1900s by Abraham Jacobi, M.D., often called the father of pediatrics. Dr. Jacobi and other pediatricians advocated for children, the poor and the field of pediatrics at a time when children were subjected to abuse and exploitation while working in factories, mines and industrial farming. Yet the Fair Labor Standards Act wasn’t passed until 1938.

“Just imagine having to wait 40 years to stop the suffering and exploitation of children and proclaim their fundamental human dignity and human rights,” Del Monte wrote.

He highlighted the efforts of pediatricians who cared for children through the 1918 influenza pandemic, the hardships of World War II, the Great Depression and many other tragedies and disasters.

More recently, the epidemic of gun violence has united pediatricians to work for firearm safety legislation, a longstanding AAP goal.

After last spring’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the AAP coordinated the testimonies of then-AAP President Moira A. Szilagyi, M.D., Ph.D., FAAP, and those of more than 300 AAP members from 40 states. The personal appeals presented to the House Appropriations Subcommittee and Senate Judiciary Committee helped drive the successful passage of major gun safety legislation, “the most significant gun safety bill passed in decades,” Del Monte wrote.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to generations of pediatricians who brought us to this victory,” he added.

The work of pediatricians is not for the faint of heart, Del Monte wrote, but has a lasting impact on our nation’s youths: “… We must never stop believing in the power of our collective action and the science and humanity of the pediatrics profession to move us to a better future.”

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