Guns still leading cause of death among children

Bullets are claiming young lives in Shreveport
Published: Apr. 10, 2023 at 4:56 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Guns continue to be the number one cause of death for children and teenagers in the United States.

And bullets are claiming young lives in Shreveport. This year alone, police and coroner’s office data show, at least seven teenagers have died as a result of gun violence. They include three 19-year-olds, two 18-year-olds and two 17-year-olds.

A recent report from the Pew Research Center says gun deaths among kids in the U.S. rose 50% in the past two years.

The study goes on to say more children and teenagers were killed by guns in 2021 than in any year since 1999, which is the first year the CDC began tracking this data.

This high number of deaths among young people in the U.S. is bringing down the country’s overall life expectancy. The report notes one in 25 American kindergarteners will not make it to their 40th birthday because of gun violence.

CNN reports that firearms accounted for nearly 19% of childhood deaths (ages 1-18) in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Wonder database.

Nearly 3,600 children died in gun-related incidents that year. That’s about five children lost for every 100,000 children in the United States.

Guns have been the leading cause of death for U.S. children and teenagers since 2020, representing 19% of all deaths for children 18 years old and younger in 2021.

Child and teen mortality overall surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study in JAMA. Firearms accounted for nearly half of the increase in mortality in 2020.

Homicide rates among individuals ages 10-19 began to increase in 2013, according to the JAMA study. Between then and 2019, the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic, homicide rates increased by 32.7%. Likely contributors to that trend and a rise in suicides, the study says, is increased access to firearms and a deepening mental health crisis among children and adolescents.

“Although the pandemic did not initiate these trends, it may have poured fuel on the fire.”

All youths did not face an equal risk. For example, non-Hispanic Black youths accounted for two-thirds (62.9%) of homicide victims ages 10-19 years old. In 2021, the homicide rate among non-Hispanic Black youths ages 10-19 was six times that of Hispanic youths and more than 20 times that of Asian/Pacific Islander non-Hispanic youths and White youths.

Even larger racial and ethnic disparities existed across sexes, the JAMA study found. The homicide rate for non-Hispanic Black males ages 10-19 was 61 times that of non-Hispanic White females.