We are a nation with a serious gun problem that can’t seem to come to terms with this. With mass shootings on the rise in the last several decades, it seems as if nothing will shame us into action—not even knowing that the problem is deeply impacting our children. But at the very least, we should not remain in denial. Gun violence is devastating the country and no one is being spared—least of all the nation’s kids. In fact, according to a new report, shootings are now the third leading cause of death for kids ages 1 to 17.
The results show that almost 1,300 children in the U.S. die from gunshot wounds yearly, and an additional 5,790 children are treated for gunshot wounds and survive each year, the researchers found. [...]
In other words, "About 19 children a day die or are medically treated in an emergency department for a gunshot wound in the U.S.," said lead study author Katherine A. Fowler, a behavioral scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
This is beyond maddening. Literally, it makes no sense. This is a completely solvable problem for which we refuse to come up with solutions. Some of these deaths are accidents and about 38 percent are suicides. But the vast majority, 53 percent, are homicides. And this should come as no surprise: there is a racial and gendered component to who is being impacted the most. Boys and black children are the most likely to die from shootings.
For example, the researchers found that each year between 2012 and 2014, the majority — 53 percent — of gun deaths in children were homicides, while 38 percent were suicides. [...]
Of all children, three groups — boys, older kids and black children — were the most likely to die in shootings, according to the study, published today (June 19) in the journal Pediatrics. Of the children who died between 2012 and 2014, 82 percent were boys, the researchers found. The rate of firearm-related deaths among children ages 13 to 17 was 12 times higher than the rate of such deaths among children younger than 13. And the mortality rate among black children was 4.1 deaths per 100,000 children per year, which was 10 times higher than the rate among non-Hispanic white children and Asian/Pacific Islander children, the researchers found.
What will it take for us to come up with common-sense gun laws in this country? If the continuous murders of children aren’t enough to do it, what is? As Americans, we obsessively tout our right and freedom to bear arms, like it sets us apart from the rest of the world. And it does. It makes us look like homicidal maniacs who would rather see kids die than figure out a way to make sure people who shouldn’t have guns don’t have access to them. The NRA is a powerful lobby that prevents us from making any real legal progress on this issue. But why should they care, anyway? It’s likely not their members’ kids who are dying.
Its unclear from this report if a good number of these deaths are kids killing other kids. One strategy mentioned for solutions is programming in school that teaches kids to "manage emotions and develop skills to resolve problems in relationships, school and with peers.” This is critically important, but is impossible without adults doing their part. After all, the kids are acting on what we have modeled for them. Right now, we are a nation that values people having guns more than we value life. And if that’s who we really want to be, then the kids are learning well from our excellent example—but they are also paying the ultimate price.