The rate of children killed by guns increased by more than 40% from 2018 to 2021 published a study Monday in Pediatrics magazine.
In 2020, gun violence became the leading cause of death among youth, having increased by 28.8% compared to the previous year. The increase continued in 2021. From 2018 to 2021, there was a 41.5% increase in child deaths from guns, the study said.
“This is a public health issue. It is the number one killer of children in this country. And I’m sure it will remain the number one cause of death in children in 2022. And maybe also in 2023. It will not go away”, Dr. Chethan Sathya, a pediatric surgeon and director of the Center for Gun Violence Prevention at Northwell Health, told HuffPost.
Sathya is the lead author of the report. Other authors listed include Bailey K. Roberts, MD; Colleen P. Nofi, DO; Emma Cornell, MPH; Sandeep Kapoor, MD, MS-HPPL; and Laura Harrison, MPH.
The Trends and Disparities in Firearm Deaths Among Children report references data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was first published by NBC News.
The majority of deaths reported in 2021, referred to in the study as “child gun deaths” were male (84.8%) and/or aged 15-19 years (82.6%). In addition, 49.9% were black and 64.3% died by homicide.
Almost a third of firearm deaths among children in 2021 were caused by suicide (29.9%), and 3.5% were caused by accidental injuries.
Of black children, 67.3% died from gun homicides in 2021. This means an increase of 1.8% compared to the previous year.
Additionally, 78.4% of youth firearm suicides were white youth.
The report also links poverty to gun death rates among children, noting that the South and Midwest have higher gun death rates.
“The sharp rise in child gun deaths in 2020 drew national attention, with many suspecting that the rise was due to the outbreak of the 2019 coronavirus pandemic and worsening root causes,” the analysis said. “Although initial fears and concerns surrounding the pandemic have subsided, it is noteworthy that firearm deaths remain the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in 2021.”
Various types of gun violence have increased dramatically over the years.
“I like to talk about the root causes or potential root causes of any type of firearm injury rather than lumping everything together. Because gun suicide, accidental injury, mass public shooting, and then violence or assault are so diverse in their root causes, ideologies, and the nature of the circumstances that they can’t really be lumped together,” Sathya told HuffPost.
Gun violence has affected more than 356,000 students nationwide since the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado on April 20, 1999, which killed 15 people. according to the Washington Post.
From January to July this year alone, more than 400 mass shootings took place across the country. CNN reportedciting the Gun Violence Archives. In one case, a teenager was arrested in connection with one Mass shooting at a block party in Baltimore celebrate the 4th of July. Two people were killed and 28 others, mostly young people, were injured.
Earlier this yeara 6-year-old boy in Virginia, shot his teacher and is said to have boasted about it afterwards. In July, a six-year-old girl was shot in the back during a road traffic incident in Kentucky.
Rising gun violence has divided the country between those who call for tougher gun control laws and those who claim gun control laws threaten their Second Amendment rights.
“I rarely see a nuanced discussion about the different types of firearm deaths or injuries and what policies might affect them, but you often hear the narrative, ‘okay, let’s pass an assault weapons ban,’ which I think definitely does will lead to a reduction in things like … public mass shootings. Definitely,” Sathya said.
But he added: “To make really effective change on gun violence, you need to address the root causes of violence – like structural inequality, social determinants of health, food security, employment opportunities, and so on.”
The CDC declined HuffPost’s request for comment because the report was not written by the center.