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March 22, 2019

Nearly 40,000 U.S. children died by gunfire since 1999 – study

More school-age children have died by guns than on-duty U.S. police or global military fatalities over that period

Children's Health Mortality
gun related deaths school children Pragyan Bezbaruah/Pexels

Researchers announced an alarming increase in the number of firearm deaths of school-age children in the United States – 38,942 in those 5 to 18 years old from 1999 to 2017 – according to a study released Thursday.

The study, conducted at Florida Atlantic University's Schmidt College of Medicine and published in the American Journal of Medicine, found that the death toll included 6,464 deaths in children between the ages of 5 to 14 years old (average of 340 deaths per year), and 32,478 deaths in children between 15 and 18 years of age (average of 2,050 deaths per year).

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The spike in firearm-related deaths began in 2009, with the first epidemic among 5- to 14-year-olds, followed by a second epidemic among 15- to 18-year-olds in 2014, researchers said. Both epidemics continued through 2017, the most recent year for which U.S. mortality data are currently available. The percentage of all deaths due to firearms was 5.6 percent for the younger group and 19.9 percent for the older group.

“It is sobering that in 2017, there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty and about 1,000 active-duty military throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-age children were killed by firearms," said Charles Hennekens, the study's lead author.

The study also uncovered a few other harrowing statistics:

• The cause of death in school-age children was 61 percent from assault; 32 percent from suicide; five percent accidental; and two percent undetermined, the study says. Further, black children accounted for 41 percent of the overall deaths, and 86 percent of the total were boys. 

• Among the 5- to 14-year-olds, cause of death was classified as assault in 54.8 percent, or 3,545, of the deaths; suicide, 29.6 percent (1,912 deaths); accidental, 12.8 percent (830 deaths);  and undetermined, 2.7 percent (177 deaths).

• Among the 15- to 18-year-olds, cause of death was classified as accident in 3.5 percent (1,121 deaths); suicide, 32.9 percent (10,688 deaths); assault, 62.3 percent (20,247 deaths), and undetermined, 1.3 percent (422 deaths).

It’s worth noting that no deaths were classified as terrorism.

According to CNN:

The United States led the world in 2016 in the rate of youth firearm deaths among countries with available data. The rate in the United States was 36.5 times higher than in a dozen comparable high-income countries around the world; the rate of firearm deaths was five times as high compared with a sampling of low- to middle-income countries.

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