Shootings are responsible for killing or injuring at least 19 children in the United States every day, a new government study has warned.
Most at risk, the report revealed, are boys, teens, and blacks.
Report Details: A Grim Picture Of Violence In America
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s analysis of U.S. data from 2002 to 2014, dubbed the most comprehensive yet on the topic, underscored gun violence as an urgent public health concern.
"Public health research is fundamental for understanding the problem and developing scientifically sound solutions," said Katherine Fowler, study lead author.
The CDC report, which covered kids and teens until age 17 and gathered data from death certificates as well as emergency room reports, anchored the annual toll at almost 1,300 deaths and nearly 6,000 non-deadly gunshot wounds. Most of them were intentionally inflicted.
Most of the deaths, too, were the result of homicides as well as suicides. In the case of non-fatal injuries, assaults were the leading cause.
The yearly death toll was almost two out of 100,000 kids, with double the rate for blacks. In non-fatal gunshot wounds, nearly eight out of 100,000 children were injured every year.
While homicides fell from 2007 to 2014 at 699 from its previous count of 1,038, suicides increased in the same period — from 325 to 532. Suicide rates had an increase of 60 percent, with one-third of victims depressed and most have recently suffered crisis such as a breakup or school problems.
Unintentional deaths remain a concern, with most of them resulting from gunplay and unintentional pulling of the trigger. Most of the victims were found out to be bystanders, yet more than 40 percent among kids up to age 10 shot themselves accidentally.
According to the AP and USA Today Network, fatalities from unintentional shootings may be significantly underreported.
The organization saw that in the first six months of 2016, minors died from accidental shootings — either at their own hands or the hands of other kids and adults — at a rate of one every other day. This is more than the current indications from federal data.
“Gun accidents pose a particular challenge for police and prosecutors who must decide whom, if anyone, to hold responsible. One of the reasons why it’s so difficult is that it’s not always clear what criminal charges would accomplish,” the report stated, noting prosecutors' worry that punishment wouldn’t make a dent in how other parents store their guns.
The report also mentioned the 2015 case of a North Carolina babysitter who was charged with involuntary manslaughter. The 2-year-old, which the babysitter was taking care of, accidentally shot herself with a shotgun that was left on a kitchen table.
Two months after the incident, Colorado police and prosecutors chose not to charge another babysitter after a 9-year-old boy was shot by his brother. The sitter, who briefly left the kids unattended, left his gun loaded in his pickup.
Congress has barred the CDC from using federal funds to promote or advocate gun control, although the health agency’s spokesperson Courtney Lenard said the directive is not prohibitive of their efforts to conduct research into gun violence.
An editorial that accompanies the new study considered it “both reasonable and wise” for physicians to discuss gun safety with parents, especially those who store their firearms at home.
The findings were detailed in the journal Pediatrics.