The number of school-aged children killed by guns has reached such alarming heights researchers are calling it an epidemic.
According to a new study conducted by Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine and published in The American Journal of Medicine, there were 38,942 fatalities among 5- to 18-year-olds from 1999 to 2017. These included 6,464 deaths in children between the ages of 5 to 14 years old and 32,478 deaths in children between the ages of 15 to 18 years old.
In 2017 along there were 2,462 school-age children killed by firearms. In comparison, during the same year 144 police officers were killed in the line of duty and 1,000 active military were killed throughout the world.
The death rate of children killed by guns in the United States is six to nine times higher than other developed nations, according to the study.
Researchers conducting the study used data from the Multiple Cause of Death FIles of the U.S. national Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
“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 H. Hennekens, M.D., senior author of the study.
Of the 32,478 cases between 1999 and 2017, 61 percent were deaths from an assault involving a firearm, 32 percent were a result of suicide, 5 percent were accidental, and 2 percent were undetermined.
African Americans and boys were particularly vulnerable to gun violence. 41 percents of the deaths studied were black children and 86 percent were boys.
“Among blacks, the annual average percent change of 9.5% for firearm-related mortality among 5 to 14-year-olds from 2013 to 2017 exceeded the 7.8% for overall deaths among 15 to 24-year-olds during the early years of the human immunodeficiency virus epidemic from 1987 to 1995,” the study said.
The study found that there were significant increases in gun deaths beginning in 2009, beginning the epidemic among 5 to 14 year olds. A second epidemic then began in 2014, involving children in the 15 to 18 year old age group. The epidemic has continued through 2017, the most recent year of available US mortality data.
Other recent studies have shown equally frightening evidence of increases in gun violence. A study last year showed that firearms are the second biggest cause of death among young people after car crashes and that as many as eight children are killed by guns each day in the U.S.