Firearms Are Now the Leading Cause of Death for Children Under 19
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics from clinical researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina has found that gun violence now kills more children than any other cause, and the racial gap between Black and white children is widening.
The study found firearm injuries are now the leading cause of death among children under 19, surpassing deaths from car accidents (the longtime leading cause) beginning in 2019, according to the researchers’ analysis of the most recent CDC data.
The team also found that while the death rate due to car accidents has steadily declined for children since 2001, the firearm death rate has risen by 14%.
The analysis also identified a large gap in risk based on race, finding the overall firearm-related death rate among Black children was four times that of white children, while the homicide rate alone was over 14 times higher.
The researchers say two programs would provide the most immediate help from a health care perspective: secure gun storage counseling and hospital-based violence intervention programs.
Secure storage counseling can reduce accidents, prevent impulsive actions by young people, and may even reduce the incidence of school shootings by limiting easy access to guns.
Hospital-based intervention programs, in which trained community members respond to conflicts and encourage the people involved to not retaliate or escalate the violence, may also help, though the team says adequate funding is a challenge.