02.03.2024

Number of children who died to guns reached ‘unacceptable’ record of 4,750 in 2021

Gun-related deaths in American children have reached a new record high, new data has shown. Analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that guns were responsible for the deaths of 4,752 Americans aged zero to 19 in 2021, which surpassed the previous record of 4,368 in 2020.

It is the third year in a row there have been gun deaths in children now firmly ahead of motor vehicle traffic, suffocation, poisoning and drowning as leading causes of death.

Dr Chethan Sathya, a pediatric trauma surgeon at Northwell Health in New York and the lead author of the study, said: ‘This is undoubtedly one of our chief public health crises in this country.

‘The most likely reason that your child will die in this country is at the hands of a firearm. That’s not acceptable.’

The leading causes of death in American children from 2018-2021. Crude death rate is the rate of death per 100,000 person

The leading causes of death in American children from 2018-2021. Crude death rate is the rate of death per 100,000 person

The above maps show the mortality rate from firearms in children by state and year between 2018 and 2021

The above maps show the mortality rate from firearms in children by state and year between 2018 and 2021

Just last week, a nine-year-old shot dead a six-year-old boy in Jacksonville, Florida (stock photo)

Just last week, a nine-year-old shot dead a six-year-old boy in Jacksonville, Florida (stock photo)

There is no sign that the steep trajectory of firearm deaths in children is slowing, Dr Sathya added.

Over 80 percent of the firearm deaths were in males 19 and younger.

Almost two-thirds of the deaths were homicides, with black male children most likely to die from homicide, while white males 19 and younger were more likely to kill themselves with guns.

Of the 2021 deaths, 64 percent were homicides, 30 percent were suicides, and four percent were unintentional.

Unintended shootings have also risen. Just last week, a nine-year-old shot dead a six-year-old boy in Jacksonville, Florida.

A three-year-old in Florida also recently died after shooting himself with a handgun.

In California, a three-year-old fatally shot his one-year-old sister with a handgun, and a two-year-old died after finding an ‘unsecured firearm.’

Between 2018 and 2021, there was a nearly 42 percent increase in the rate of children killed by guns, according to the analysis.

Researchers were expecting to see a decline in firearm-related deaths in children in 2021 after they skyrocketed in 2020 — though to be due to growing rates of mental illness during pandemic-induced lockdowns.

Dr Sathya said the fact that gun deaths kept growing was ‘surprising to many of us.’

According to a separate analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 1,427 children aged one to 17 died from cancer in the US in 2021, while 2,348 died from motor vehicle accidents.

The new study was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

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