Because the COVID-19 pandemic took maintain in 2020, so did one other grim actuality: For the primary time, weapons turned the main reason behind dying for American kids and youngsters, surpassing automobile accidents, the long-standing chief.
In 2021, youth firearm dying charges didn’t fall to pre-pandemic ranges as hoped, however as a substitute continued a pointy rise to hit a brand new file excessive. That is based on a recent study led by researchers in New York and revealed within the journal Pediatrics. The examine was based mostly on nationwide mortality knowledge from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.
Nationwide, there have been 4,752 firearm deaths of American kids and teenagers (ages 0 to 19) in 2021, translating to a fee of 5.8 gun deaths per 100,000 individuals. The deaths symbolize a virtually 9 p.c improve from 2020 (4,368 or 5.4 deaths per 100,000).
The examine seemed for disparities and tendencies within the knowledge. As earlier than, firearm deaths have been largely in older teenagers, with 83 p.c of deaths in teenagers ages 15 to 19. Most have been amongst males, who accounted for 85 p.c of the deaths. Black kids remained disproportionally affected, with the hole widening—50 p.c of the deaths have been amongst Black kids. The dying fee amongst Black kids and teenagers elevated from 16.6 per 100,000 in 2020 to 18.9 per 100,000, the most important improve among the many racial classes.
As for intent, 64 p.c of the 2021 firearm deaths have been from homicides and 30 p.c have been from suicides, with the rest from unintentional shootings. Murder charges elevated throughout all age teams, which was a part of a multi-year pattern. Between 2018 and 2021, homicides elevated 66 p.c within the 0–4 and 5–9 age teams. For teenagers aged 10–14, homicides elevated 100%, and 62 p.c in teenagers 15–19.
The racial disparity in homicides was stark, with the speed of deaths amongst Black kids being 11 instances greater than that of white kids. For suicides, white kids accounted for 78 p.c of the deaths.
Concerning the place kids and teenagers had the very best charges of firearm deaths, the examine discovered that locations the place baseline dying charges have been already excessive acquired worse—particularly within the South.
“In 2021, firearm mortalities have been largely concentrated in Southern states,” the authors wrote. “Louisiana had the very best dying fee per 100,000 individuals (17.0), adopted by Mississippi (14.8), Alabama (11.4), Montana (11.1), and South Carolina (10.2).”
The authors speculated that this might be on account of “variability in social determinants of well being, inequity, firearm entry, laws, and entry to preventative methods (violence intervention, suicide prevention, firearm security).” State poverty ranges have been additionally tightly linked with pediatric firearm dying charges, the examine discovered.
In all, the authors referred to as for extra knowledge to grasp the lethal pattern and develop prevention methods.
“These findings spotlight the need and urgency of real-time epidemiologic surveillance of this epidemic and implementation of evidence-informed methods to forestall pediatric firearm fatalities amongst kids and adolescents at highest danger,” the authors wrote.