At least 19 children in the U.S. are at risk of being killed or injured by gun violence on any given day, with African-American children facing the highest risk, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report, billed as one of the most comprehensive studies on childhood gun injuries in the U.S., found that nearly 1,300 children under the age of 17 die from gunshot wounds each year, while close to 5,800 suffer some sort of injury. Most gun-related deaths aren’t accidental, however, as the CDC team revealed that 53 percent of fatal shootings between 2012 and 2014 were homicides while 38 percent were suicides.
Meanwhile, physical assault was to blame for most of the nonfatal gun injuries.
“Firearm-related deaths are the third-leading cause of death overall among U.S. children aged 1 to 17 years, surpassing the number of deaths from pediatric congenital anomalies, heart disease, influenza and/or pneumonia, lower respiratory disease and cerebrovascular causes,” Katherine Fowler of the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention and her colleagues wrote in their report published in the journal Pediatrics. “They’re the second-leading cause of injury-related death in this age group, surpassed only by [car] injury deaths.”
Authors also noted the striking effect race had on firearm-linked deaths and injuries among children. African-American children are approximately 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than white children, giving them the highest rate of gun mortality overall. Moreover, authors found that the risk of death by gun increased with age.
“Older children [age 13–17 years] had a rate of fatal firearm injury that was more than 12 times higher than the rate for younger children [age 0–12 years],” their report read.
The CDC’s study noted a 60-percent hike in suicides between 2007 and 2014, with some of the highest rates occurring in the Western states. Researchers said one third of these kids were struggling with depression while others had recently experienced situational and/or relationship issues. They added that kids in this age group who attempt suicide spend just 10 minutes or less deliberating, resulting in a detrimental spur-of-the-moment decision.
“Programs that help children and youths manage emotions and develop skills to resolve problems in relationships, school and with peers can reduce adolescent suicidal behavior and improve help-seeking and coping skills,” the authors wrote. “These types of programs also have demonstrated preventive effects on peer violence and dating violence among teenagers.”
Key findings of the report also include:
- Homicides rates among children decreased between 2007 and 2014, falling from 1,038 deaths to 699 — a 38 percent decrease.
- Over 90 percent of all children aged 14 or below who are killed by guns in high-income countries are killed in the U.S.
- Boys accounted for 82 percent of gun-related deaths and 84 percent of nonfatal injuries from guns.
- White and Native American children had the highest annual rates of suicide using a firearm.