12/19/2012 01:23 pm ET Updated Feb 18, 2013

How to Cope in a World Where Children Are Never Safe

When I heard the shocking news of the killings in Newtown, Conn., I tried very hard to stay present, honest and conscious. I did not want to go to that easy place of denial. Like many, I felt on edge and very fragile.

I am always thinking about child protection globally. A dear friend/colleague who is a fierce advocate of child protection for UNICEF, Susan Bissell, wrote a note to family and friends that clearly stated that "our children are never safe." Whether the news is of a heinous massacre in a rural New England town, or the senseless of death of children anywhere in the world due to violence, illness, or neglect, her words ring true. Children are vulnerable and we must be vigilant about their protection. We must worship and adore them.

I have been through a lot of disasters in my lifetime, as a pediatrician and parent. I deal with the horrific deaths of children all over the world. I believe that when something bad happens personally or globally, the way to survive and heal is by listening to one another and talking about how we feel.

When painful news is all around us, the first step is to alleviate fear in our children. There are no simple answers to their complex questions about the Newtown murders, but I have checked on my children daily since Friday. I was not afraid to talk to them. I wanted to share my heart with them and I wanted to help them stay conscious. I read the various resources available online and most of it is not realistic. I also listened to psychologists and psychiatrists trying to do their best to help us all. I didn't want my children to be afraid and I think that having them tell me how they feel helped them.

Life is very hard and we deal with challenging issues daily. When talking about the tragic deaths of children, we must keep the dialogue alive and be conscious. We must be advocates in this gritty, dangerous world. Listening and feeling on behalf of children is what keeps us charging forward against injustice.