School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: Gun Violence in America Has Global Impact

In my previous blog post, I shared my transformational experience attending the 2023 School Nurse International Conference, hosted by Northeastern University School Health Academy in Boston. Now, in this follow-up post, I want to reflect on my presentation titled “A Public Health Approach to Ending Gun Violence Against Children: Experiences from a US School Nurse’s Office.” The response from the participants was eye-opening, revealing how the impact of gun violence in America extends far beyond our borders.

One of the highlights of the conference was having the honor to speak following Dr. Valentina Baltag, the head of the Adolescent and Young Adult Health Unit of the World Health Organization. Her global perspective on violence against children provided a broader context for the issues we discussed. My presentation, on the other hand, delved into the specific challenges of school gun violence from a US school nurse’s perspective. Both presentations were sobering, shedding light on the urgent global emergency of violence and its lifelong consequences for children and youth.

An alarming data point shared was that more than ONE billion children are impacted by violence every year. The gravity of the situation became even more sobering when I shared that gun violence is the number one cause of death for children and youth in America. This revelation set the tone for profound discussions during the question-and-answer segment of my talk.

Listening to the heartfelt responses from school nurses representing different countries, it became evident that the crisis of gun violence in America has far-reaching effects on our colleagues across the world. Many shared their visceral reactions to the ongoing news of gun violence in the US. Some spoke about the trauma experienced in their countries when gun violence erupted in a school, an impact that has continued to reverberate decades beyond the isolated event. One school nurse, overcome with emotion, expressed her fear for the safety of the students she cares for, who choose to come to the US for college.

What struck me most was that this issue transcends national borders. Travel advisories from at least seven countries now warn their citizens to be cautious when visiting the United States due to its gun violence crisis. This concern was openly shared by nurses from the nations attending the School Nurse International Conference, serving as another profound moment for me. It reinforced the global impact gun violence in America has on other countries. I never realized the far-reaching consequences gun violence here could have on continents across the world. I have spent time digesting and synthesizing the lessons learned from participating in an international conference; a first for me, but not the last!

Despite our diverse backgrounds and experiences, the universal language of school nursing was spoken at this conference. Being surrounded by colleagues from around the world provided me with yet another perspective, even after decades of practice. It reinforced the interconnectedness of our roles as school nurses, caring for students’ well-being and safety globally.

The experience of engaging with school nurses from different countries has broadened my understanding and reminded me of the collective impact we can have when we unite in advocating for the health and safety of children and youth worldwide. The conference has left a lasting impression, fueling my passion to continue the work of promoting violence prevention and advocating for a safer and more compassionate world for all.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.