A new report led by Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control researchers unveiled an average of 1,287 children and adolescents in the U.S. die each year due to gun violence.
Researchers analyzed national data on fatal firearm injuries from death certificates in the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System from 2012 to 2014 for the study, which was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Based on the data, an average of 5,790 American children receive medical treatment in an emergency room each year for a gun-related injury and about 21 percent of those injuries are unintentional.
That means approximately 19 children die or are rushed to the emergency department for treatment each day.
More than half of firearm deaths, according to the report, are homicides (53 percent), 38 percent are suicides and about 6 percent are unintentional.
Boys and African-American children most vulnerable
Researchers found boys suffer the majority of gun-related deaths (82 percent). African-American children face the highest rates of homicide while white and Native American children have the highest rates of gun-related suicide.
African-American children also have the highest rates of gun-related mortality overall, 10 times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white and Asian-American children, according to the report.
Among unintentional firearm deaths, the majority of children killed were playing with the gun and fatally injured in a home. Many mistake the gun for a toy or think the gun is unloaded or the safety is engaged.
Where do most gun deaths occur?
According to the study, the District of Columbia and Louisiana saw the highest rates of child firearm deaths from 2010 to 2014, according to the study.
Southern states (specifically Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee) accounted for a significant concentration of firearm homicide rates.
And firearm suicide rates were disproportionately higher in rural compared with urban areas.
A public health crisis
The “staggering” numbers indicate gun-related violence is the third largest cause of death in American children, making firearm injuries “a serious pediatric and public health problem in the United States,” the study’s authors wrote.
In fact, of 23 high-income countries, 91 percent of children killed by firearms in 2010 were from the U.S., according to a study published in The American Journal of Medicine last year.
But these deaths are preventable, lead researcher Katherine A. Fowler said. Fowler calls on community outreach and schools to help find ways to promote safe gun storage education to gun owners, screen for depression in children and address poverty and violence trends.
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