Yesterday, The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new study detailing how the rate of firearm fatalities among children under 18 has surged by 87% from 2011 through 2021 in the United States. The study reinforces how America’s gun violence epidemic has impacted American families, guns are the leading cause of death for American children and teens.
The study also shows how the death rate for car accidents, once the number one killer of American children, has fallen significantly, nearly by half, a clear result of the motor vehicle industry taking meaningful steps to innovate and make their products safer, steps the gun industry has long failed to do.
“We live in the only high-income country where bullets are taking the lives of our children and teens more than anything else. We don’t have to live like this and we don’t have to accept this level of gun violence as our reality,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps, Senior Director of Research at Everytown for Gun Safety “This research confirms what we’ve long known but it should serve as a wake-up call: we can reverse this trend and save lives. But only if we take concrete actions.”
“Kids across this country deserve better than having their dreams, goals and futures cut short by gun violence,” said Dr. Annie Andrews, a pediatrician and Senior Advisor at Everytown for Gun Safety. “The data in yesterday’s research only proves further how absolutely critical this work is — it’s life and death. Pediatric firearm injuries can be prevented if we trust the evidence and fight for proven solutions on every level.”
“My generation is being forced to normalize growing up living in fear of gun violence, it’s shaping nearly every aspect of our lives,” said Rebekah Schuler, a senior at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan and a volunteer with Students Demand Action. “This report shows how easy access to firearms has created an environment where gun violence can thrive at the expense of our safety and futures. Young people like me refuse to accept this crisis as our reality, and that is why we’ll do everything in our power to break this cycle.”
Firearms are the leading cause of death for children, teens and college-aged people in America. Every year, nearly 19,000 children and teens are shot and killed or wounded and approximately three million are exposed to gun violence. Witnessing shootings – whether in their schools, their communities or their homes – can have a devastating impact. Even for those who haven’t experienced gun violence, the trauma of experiencing active shooter drills and swatting incidents – which are happening with increasing frequency – leaves students, teachers and parents across the country experiencing firsthand the impacts of the gun lobby’s ‘guns everywhere’ agenda.
Unintentional shootings make up five percent of gun deaths among children under the age of 18. Parents and adults can find more information on how to prevent unintentional shootings through Everytown’s secure storage campaign, Be SMART For Kids (“Be SMART”). Be SMART helps parents and other adults normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions that can prevent child gun deaths and injuries, youth suicide, and gunfire on school grounds.
The program encourages parents and adults to:
- Secure all guns in their home and vehicles
- Model responsible behavior around guns
- Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes
- Recognize the role of guns in suicide
- Tell your peers to be SMART
For more information on secure firearm storage and the most effective ways to protect children from unsecured firearms, visit BeSMARTforkids.org. Additional information about unintentional shootings by children can be found here, facts and resources about child gun suicide can be found here, and information about gunfire on school grounds can be found here.