Gun-related injuries in children and adolescents have surged in recent years, now ranking third for causes of death in the USA.
A new report states that among kids ages one to 17, almost 1,300 of them die annually from gunshot wounds. An additional 5,790 kids suffer from gunshot wounds and survive yearly, Live Science reports.
Katherine A. Fowler, lead author on the report and behavioral scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says,
About 19 children a day die or are medically treated in an emergency department for a gunshot wound in the US.
The researchers examined data from three databases: the National Vital Statistics System, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and the National Violent Death Reporting System. They looked at the information on gun death trends and gun-related injuries among children from 2002 to 2014.
The team found that for each year from 2012 to 2014, 53% of gun deaths in kids were homicides, while 38% were suicides. The remaining deaths were classified as accidents, shootings from law enforcement, and “firearm deaths of undetermined intent” or those that were unclear or undetermined.
Boys, older children, and black youth were the most likely to die in shootings, the report further stated. Among those who died in 2012 to 2014, 82% were male. In addition, the rate of gun-related deaths among adolescents ages 13 to 17 was 12% more than the rate of similar deaths among kids younger than 13 years.
Mortality among black children was 4.1 deaths per 100,000 children per year – ten times higher than that of non-Hispanic white kids and Asian or Pacific Islander children, the researchers found.
Overall, suicides using guns dropped between 2002 and 2006, but increased rapidly by 60% from 2007 to 2014.
Homicide cases involving firearms numbered more in the South and Midwest, the report added.
These results “highlight the need for evidence-based solutions to address this public health problem,” Fowler said. Education, “street outreach approaches” and other means of prevention that teach young people to “manage emotions and develop skills to resolve problems in relationships, school and with peers” are necessary to address the growing problem, the researchers said.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.