Although the youth murder rate did hit a 30-year low in 2010, federal health officials are concerned about the rise in gun violence and its contribution to kids’ early mortality rates.
“We’ve demonstrated that we’ve made a lot of progress in reducing youth violence, but the study also points out that this progress is slowing and homicide is still a leading cause of death,” Corinne David-Ferdon, a behavioral scientist in the CDC’s Violence Prevention and Injury Center, told Reuters. “It’s important we get these programs in place early in young people’s lives to help disrupt the development of violent attitudes and behavior in early childhood and middle childhood.”
In the past several months, particularly after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary killed 20 young students and seven adults, there has been a renewed push to protect children’s health by preventing gun violence. Thousands of Americans have gone onto be killed by guns after the Sandy Hook tragedy, including many very young children accidentally shot by firearms kept in their homes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) — the nation’s largest group of pediatricians, representing over 600,000 doctors across the country — has pressured Congress to enact stricter policies to combat gun violence, pointing out that guns are the leading cause of death among minors. But the NRA isn’t particularly interested in efforts to frame gun safety as a public health issue. The powerful lobbying group actively works to discredit the AAP’s work around gun control, and has blocked scientific research into the health effects of gun violence for years.
A separate study released this week found that the youth who own firearms are far more likely to end up in the ER with assault injuries than the youth who aren’t gun owners. Treating wounds resulting from gun injuries costs Americans an estimated $5.6 billion in medical bills each year.