However, the State of the Union address on Tuesday and the Republican response offered a welcome moment of agreement. Both President Obama and Senator Marco Rubio called for urgent action to reduce violence in our schools and communities. It's certainly true that Republicans and Democrats may disagree on the steps we should take, but I was pleased nonetheless that both sides are considering the problem with the seriousness it deserves.
The debate is different this time. December's unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School has focused the nation's attention on safety -- and rightly so. Every morning, some 60 million American parents check homework, stuff backpacks, zip up jackets and send their beloved children into the care of our nation's schools. Parents are demanding that our leaders do everything in their power to ensure that those kids return home, every day, safe and healthy.
There are no shortage of ideas on the subject, and the debate has been robust. But I'd argue that our national conversation has been missing one essential element: a physician's focus on prevention.
I have served as a practicing pediatrician in Philadelphia and in Camden, New Jersey, but you don't have to be a doctor to know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's cheaper and more effective to stop violence before it starts.