1/27/14 | by Jennifer Cruz
A study published Monday in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, revealed that a startling 10,000 children in the U.S. are either injured or killed in gun-related incidents each year, NBC reports.
According to the study, more than 7,000 kids visit the emergency room annually, or about 20 each day, due to gun-related injuries and another 3,000 die before they ever even make it to the hospital. The majority – about half — of those injuries and deaths are the result of assault, while less than 25 percent are due to accidents and under 300 cases – less than 3 percent — are ruled to be from attempted suicide.
The study seems fairly consistent with prior studies, which have previously put the annual firearm mortality rate in American youth at about 3,000.
In addition, the study found that there were very distinct differences between varying demographics. Boys made up 90 percent of hospital stays, with black males comprising over 10 times more injuries and deaths than white males.
However, while referring to the youth as children conjures images of toddlers and elementary kids playing hopscotch in the street, the study covers a much larger demographic than that. The study refers to children as anyone 20 years old and younger, a fact that could prove to be somewhat misleading or confusing at best.
The age of the victim seemed to have a profound result on the type of injury they suffered as well. For example, accidental shootings were more prevalent among children under the age of five. These cases often lead to brain and spinal cord injuries with devastating and life-changing results.
Homicide cases, however, were more prevalent in the 18- to 20-year-old range, a range which one could reasonably argue is not youth or childhood, as in most states 18-year-olds are legal adults. Nevertheless, according to a study previously published in Pediatrics, this is an age that is already commonly marked by high rates of violent behavior. And that violent behavior, as noted nearly 20 years ago, is increasing in younger ages as well.
A study by the National Institute of Mental Health shows that “rates of death by injury between ages 15 to 19 are about six times that of the rate between ages 10 and 14” and indicates that the still-developing brain of the adolescent – complete with the constant ups and downs that accompany that — may have a factor in those injuries. “In key ways, the brain doesn’t look like that of an adult until the early 20s,” the study states.
Yet still, Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, places the burden of gun-related injuries and deaths among American youth on the country’s “weak” gun laws.
“In order to drink beer legally you have to be 21,” Webster points out. “While you have to be 21 to purchase a handgun from a dealer, if you’re an 18-year-old you can go to a private seller and legally purchase a handgun in 45 out of 50 states.”
“So for this very high risk group of 18- to 20-year olds, we think it’s too dangerous to drink beer, but in 45 states they can legally possess as many handguns as they like,” he added.