9 Statistics About How Gun Violence Affects Kids & Teens That Will Make Your Jaw Drop

by Seth Millstein
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Gun violence has been at the forefront of American political discourse since Feb. 14th, when a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The conversation has focused especially on gun violence among teenagers and children, and several recent studies illustrate the alarming extent to which American kids are killed and injured by firearms.

In that sense, it's fitting that most visible faces of the movement for stronger gun laws are, at least at the moment, young people. After the Parkland shooting, several survivors from Stoneman Douglas turned their sites to activism. In a little over a month, these student activists have done everything from grill pro-gun lawmakers at town halls, to organize national protest marches, to appear on the cover of TIME. And they've been crucial in sustaining national momentum and focus on gun violence in general and child gun deaths in particular.

“We’re the mass shooting generation," Cameron Kasky, one of the Parkland survivors, told 60 Minutes. "I was born months after Columbine. I’m 17 years old and we’ve had 17 years of mass shootings."

Unfortunately, Kasky is right. Guns are one of the biggest threats to the lives of American children, and the proof is in the statistics.

Child Gun Deaths Since Columbine

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The Washington Post reported that more than 26,000 children and teenagers in the U.S. have been killed by guns since the 1999 Columbine massacre, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And that number actually understates child gun deaths, because it's only current to 2016.

America Leading The World

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Child gun deaths in America are far more common than in any other other high-income countries. When a child younger than 15 is killed by a gun in a wealthy nation, there's a 91 percent chance that they were killed in the U.S., according to a 2010 study in the American Journal of Medicine.

Third-Leading Killer

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A March study published in the journal Pediatrics found that every year, 1,297 children in America die from gun-related injuries. This makes guns the third-leading cause of death for Americans younger than 18 years old, surpassed only by illnesses and accidents (like car crashes or drowning).

Black Children Are At Higher Risk Of Being Shot

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The Pediatrics study also found a wide racial disparity in firearm homicides: Despite the fact that only 13 percent of Americans are black, 56 percent of American children killed in gun homicides are black.

Emergency Room Treatment

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According to that same Pediatrics study, 5,790 children every year are treated in the emergency room for gun-related injuries.

Infants Are At Risk, Too

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When we talk about child gun deaths, we tend to think about teenagers, and for good reason: According to the CDC, teens account for 85 percent of children killed by guns, the Post reported.

But guns can kill anybody. Between 1999 and 2016, 1,678 kids younger than five years old died from gunshot wounds, the CDC data shows.

Most Gun Deaths Are Homicides — But Not All

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A slight majority — 59 percent — of annual child gun deaths are homicides. But every year, 8,102 children take their own lives with guns, 1,899 kids die in accidental shootings, and 450 are killed by guns in ambiguous or undetermined situations.

Police Shootings Have Killed Too Many Children

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Although conversations about gun violence often focus on mass shooters, they're not the only assailants. In 2017, 28 children were shot to death by police, according to the Post. That's more than one every two weeks.

Guns Kill More Kids In States With Fewer Gun Laws

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The Pediatrics study found that the states with the highest child gun deaths were Louisiana, Wyoming and Alaska, all of which have relatively lax gun regulations. 24/7 Wall Street reviewed CDC data (which looked at numbers from slightly different years than Pediatrics), and found that Alaska, Alabama, and Louisiana topped the list of child gun deaths, with Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Montana not far behind.

Gun violence has the potential to hurt any and everybody. But the numbers make clear just how many American children are victims of firearms. It's no wonder they're protesting.