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Gun deaths among children and teens have soared – but there are ways to reverse the trend | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

(THE CONVERSATION) Firearm injuries are now the leading cause of death among U.S. children and teens following a huge decadelong rise.

Analyses published on Oct. 5, 2023, by a research team in Boston found an 87% increase in firearm-involved fatalities among Americans under the age of 18 from 2011 to 2021.

Such an increase is obviously very concerning. But as scholarsof adolescent healthand firearm violence, we know there are many evidence-based steps that elected officials, health care professionals, community leaders, school administrators and parents can implement to help reverse this trend.

Trends in firearm deaths

The latest study is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This data also provides information on whether firearm deaths were the result of homicide, suicide or unintentional shootings.

We have seen increases over time in all three areas. The steepest increase has been in the rate of firearm homicides, which doubled over the decade to 2021, reaching 2.1 deaths per 100,000 children and teens, or about 1,500 fatalities annually. Firearm-involved suicides have also increased steadily to 1.1 deaths per 100,000 children and teens in 2021.

Whereas the proportion of youth firearm-involved deaths due to unintentional shootings is typically highest during childhood, the share of gun deaths due to suicide peaks in adolescence.

In 2021, homicide was the most common form of firearm-involved deaths in almost every age group under the age of 18, with an exception of 12- and 13-year-olds, in which suicide was the leading cause of firearm fatalities.

Racial disparities in firearm deaths, which have been present for multiple generations, are also expanding, research shows.

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