Firearms remain the number two cause death for children and teenagers in the US, with numbers remaining steady – despite the 50 percent decline in car accident deaths, the number one case for adolescents.
Researchers at the University of Michigan say that their first-of-its-kind study underscores the dire need for policy change to save young people in the US from preventable, early deaths.
In 2016, a total of 20,360 children and teenagers died in the US, according to Michigan study’s analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
Of those deaths, some 60 percent were preventable.
And 3,140 children – or an average of eight children a day – were killed by firearms in that single year.
The researchers note that, in 2016, half as many died in such incidents as did 20 years ago, thanks to prevention care efforts – and urge that gun deaths, too, could be curbed if such unified measures were taken.
Guns are the second-leading cause of death among children, and the rate remains steady even as the other top causes have fallen in the past two decades, new research reveals
Since January 2009, there have been at least 288 school shootings in the US – over 55 times as many as any of the other six wealthy nations in the world.
And those attacks don’t even account for most of the deaths of children in the US.
Medical advancements have pushed down rates of death from childhood cancers.
In fact, even over the single year’s worth of death certificates the researchers analyzed, there was a decline in the number of children and teenagers dying from cancer.
According to their data, about 4,000 children died in car accidents. It’s a staggering number, but a victory nonetheless.
Two decades ago, they report, twice as many young people were killed by vehicles.
But US regulators learned from those tragedies, introducing stricter car seat regulations and more diligently enforcing ‘buckle-up’ laws.
And engineers took up the cause too, creating safer cars and car seats.
‘Our country has spent billions to decrease car crash injuries and deaths for kids and adults, and has made it a leading priority for several federal agencies. Safety in a crash is now a selling point for cars,’ says lead study author Dr Rebecca Cunningham.
She credits ‘preventative science’ for driving down these deaths.
Following cancer, drug overdoses, poisonings and birth defects were the next highest causes of death, accounting for just under 1,000 casualties a piece.
The Michigan researchers claim that their data analysis is the first to look at both cause of death and the ‘intent’ involved.
Parcing the data that way, they report that drownings and birth defects have caused fewer and fewer deaths over the last 17 years.
But the story is different for overdoses and poisonings – which have both risen amid the opioid epidemic, and are now the sixth most common cause of children’s deaths.
And gun deaths have remained unnervingly consistent, hovering around four out of every 100,000 child or adolescent deaths annually since 1999.
‘Homicides account for 60 percent of those deaths, suicide about 35 percent, unintentional or accidental injuries about one percent and mass shootings slightly less than one percent,’ said Dr Cunningham.
‘Firearm deaths of children and adolescents are an “everybody” problem, not a problem for just certain population.
‘By using a data-driven approach to studying these deaths, I hope we can guide the US to apply our resources to help us understand what we can do to prevent these deaths across the country.’