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US see an Increased Deaths by Gunfire

In recent years, an alarming trend has emerged in the United States. Since 2020, firearms have become the leading cause of death among children and teenagers, surpassing even car accidents, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2022, more than 4,500 young lives were lost to firearm injuries. But the tragedy doesn't stop there; the ripple effects of these incidents have far-reaching consequences on survivors and their families, as revealed in a recent study published in the November issue of Health Affairs.

The United States saw an increase in the number of children and teens killed by gunfire, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Centre.

In the analysis that looked at the period between 20019 and 2021, the Pew centre said that the number of children and teens killed by gunfire in the US increased by 15 per cent.   

THE TRAGEDY

The Pew analysis said that 2019 saw 1,732 gun deaths among children and teens under the age of 18. And by 2021, the figure increased to 2,590, it added.

The gun death rate among children and teens – a measure that adjusts for changes in the nation’s population – rose from 2.4 fatalities per 100,000 minor residents in 2019 to 3.5 per 100,000 two years later, a 46% increase, the Pew centre mentioned.

The analysis also pointed out that the number and rate of children and teens killed by gunfire in 2021 were higher than at any point since at least 1999, the earliest year for which information about those younger than 18 is available in the CDC’s mortality database.

HOMICIES, SUICIDES

In 2021, the United States saw 48,830 gun deaths among all ages – by far the highest yearly total on record and up 23% from the 39,707 recorded in 2019, before the pandemic.

Among the killings, Homicide was the largest single category of gun deaths among children and teens in 2021, accounting for 60% of the total that year. Suicide followed at 32% and accidents at 5%. Among US adults, by contrast, suicides accounted for a 55% majority of gun deaths in 2021.

The CDC on nonfatal gun-related injuries reported that more than 11,000 emergency-room visits for gunshot injuries among children and teens under the age of 18 were made in 2020. An exact count is not possible, however, because the CDC’s estimate is based on a sample of U.S. hospitals, not all U.S. hospitals, and is subject to a large margin of error.

MORE COMMON AMONG SOME GROUPS OF CHILDREN AND TEENS

The analysis notes that boys accounted for 83% of all gun deaths among children and teens in 2021. Meanwhile, girls accounted for 17%.

It also mentioned that older children and teens are much more likely than younger kids to be killed in gun-related incidents. Those ages 12 to 17 accounted for 86% of all gun deaths among children and teens in 2021, while those 6 to 11 accounted for 7% of the total, as did those 5 and under. Still, there were 179 gun deaths among children ages 6 to 11 and 184 among those 5 and under in 2021.

For all three age groups, homicide was the leading type of gun death in 2021. However, suicides accounted for a significant share (36%) of gun deaths among those ages 12 to 17, while accidents accounted for a sizable share (34%) of gun deaths among those five years and under.

It also reported that 46% of all gun deaths in 2021 among children and teens involved Black victims, even though only 14% of the U.S. under-18 population that year was Black. Much smaller shares of gun deaths among children and teens in 2021 involved White (32%), Hispanic (17%) and Asian (1%) victims.

The analysis points out that black children and teens were roughly five times as likely as their white counterparts to die from gunfire in 2021. There were 11.8 gun deaths per 100,000 Black children and teens that year, compared with 2.3 gun deaths per 100,000 White children and teens. The gun death rate among Hispanic children and teens was also 2.3 deaths per 100,000 in 2021, while it was lower among Asian children and teens (0.9 per 100,000).

There are also major racial and ethnic differences in the types of gun deaths involving children and teens. In 2021, a large majority of gun deaths involving Black children and teens (84%) were homicides, while 9% were suicides. Among White children and teens, by contrast, the majority of gun deaths (66%) were suicides, while a much smaller share (24%) were homicides.

In this analysis, Black, White and Asian children and teens include only those who are single-race and not Hispanic, while Hispanic children and teens are of any race.

 sizable share of American parents are worried about their kids getting shot. In a fall 2022 Pew Research Center survey, 22% of parents with children under 18 said they were extremely or very worried about any of their children getting shot at some point, while another 23% said they were somewhat worried. Still, more than half said they were not worried about this.

DEMOGRAPHIC

The survey found demographic differences in these concerns. Around four-in-ten Hispanic parents (42%) and about a third of Black parents (32%) said they were extremely or very worried about their children getting shot, compared with smaller shares of Asian (23%) and White (12%) parents.

Parents in self-described urban communities (35%) were considerably more likely than those in rural (19%) or suburban (17%) areas to be extremely or very worried about any of their children being shot. And lower-income parents (40%) were far more likely than middle-income (16%) and upper-income (10%) parents to be extremely or very worried.

Partisan differences were evident, too. Democratic and Democratic-leaning parents were roughly twice as likely as Republican and Republican-leaning parents to say they were extremely or very worried about their children getting shot at some point (27% vs. 14%).

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