Gun violence top killer of American kids surpassing road accidents, drug overdose: Study

Reported By:| Edited By: |Source: |Updated: May 26, 2022, 03:25 PM IST

On Tuesday, May 24, America woke up to the horrors of gun violence yet again when an 18-year-old youth stormed at an elementary school in Texas and shot dead 19 kids and two teachers. This was the 27th school shooting and the 213th mass shooting in the United States this year, according to reports.

This was also the second deadliest school attack in American history after the December 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, which left 20 students and six staff members dead. According to reports, there have been as many as 119 school shootings in the US since 2018!

According to researchers at the University of Michigan, US, gun violence is now the leading cause of death for American children, surpassing motor accidents, drug overdose and cancer. Some six out of every 100,000 American kids suffered a firearm-related death in 2020 in contrast to five out of every 100,000 children who died in accidents and two out of 100,000 who died of drug overdose.

The research calculated that over 4,300 children aged 1-19 years old died of firearm-related injuries in 2020 – a significant 29 per cent jump from the previous year. Overall, there was a record 45,222 firearm deaths in 2020 – a 13 percent jump. But more worryingly, this was driven by a 33 per cent spike in gun-related homicides.

The 4,300 firearm deaths among children and adolescents included homicides, suicides and unintentional deaths. Motor vehicles caused some 3,900 fatalities, while drug poisoning deaths increased by more than 83 per cent – to more than 1,700 – to become the third-leading cause of death in this age group.

“The increasing rates of firearm mortality are a longer-term trend and demonstrate that we continue to fail to protect our youngest population from a preventable cause of death,” said Jason Goldstick, associate professor of emergency medicine and health behavior at the University of Michigan . He has co-authored the research along with Rebecca Cunningham and Patrick Carter.

READ | Texas teen shared CHILLING plan on Facebook before shooting in elementary school

Declining accident deaths were also a result of increased focus on motor and road safety over the years. “Motor vehicle crashes were consistently the leading cause of death for children and adolescents by a fairly wide margin, but by making vehicles and their drivers safer, these fatalities have drastically decreased over the past 20 years. Injury prevention science played a crucial role in reducing automobile deaths without taking cars off the road, and we have a real opportunity here to generate a similar impact for reducing firearm deaths,” said Carter, associate professor of emergency medicine and health behaviour.

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