The number of children killed by guns has climbed at a staggering rate and to epidemic proportions in the last 20 years, researchers found.
More children were shot dead in 2017 than on-duty policemen and active duty military, a study published in The American Journal of Medicine revealed.
The team at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine analyzed the most recent data gathered by the National Center for Health Statistics and found that 38,940 children between the ages of 5 and 18 died in situations involving a gun between 1999 and 2017.
Some 6,464 deaths included children between the ages of 5 and 14, which is an average of 340 deaths per year. An additional 32,478 children between the ages of 15 and 18 died, an average of 2,050 per year between 1999 and 2017.
61 percent of these children were killed in an attack involving a firearm, another 32 percent died by suicide, while another 5 percent died in an accident. The deaths surrounding 2 percent of cases were undetermined.
In the deaths studied, Black children were found to be more vulnerable to gun violence, making up 41 percent. Of those, 86 percent were boys.
The authors pointed out that the epidemic of gun-related deaths among 15- to 18-year-old children began in 2009. Later, it was followed by a second among children between the ages of 5 and 15.
“It is sobering that in 2017, there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty and about 1,000 active duty military throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-age children were killed by firearms,” the authors wrote of their findings based on children in the U.S.
“These descriptive data indicate that mortality rates from firearms in United States schoolchildren are increasing at alarming rates especially among blacks and those aged 15 to 18 years.”
The authors made note of past studies showing homicide rates in the U.S. are six to nine-times higher when compared to other developed nations. Between 2013 and 2016, the number of homicides rose by 28 percent, with most involving a gun.
The research is the latest in a series of studies to give more insight on how children are victims of gun violence in the U.S. In 2018, a study found guns are the second biggest cause of death among young people after car crashes, with up to eight children being killed by guns each day in the U.S. The research based on the latest data from 2016 was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
An abstract of a study shown at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2018 National Conference & Exhibition revealed that double the number of children are killed by guns in states where gun laws are more lax than those with strict laws.
In regards to The New England Journal of Medicine study at the time, Dr. Sierra Smucker of Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, who was not involved in the research, told Newsweek: “The high percentage of children who are killed in firearm homicides may be related to the risk children face in violent domestic contexts.
“We know from extensive research that the presence of a firearm in a domestic violence incident increases the risk of intimate partner homicide, but we also see that these cases are more likely to include multiple deaths and these additional murders are often the children living in the home.”