Almost one child or teen is injured by a firearm every hour in America. Six percent of the 7,391 hospitalizations analyzed resulted in a death, according to the study. And overall, that’s an average of 20 children hurt by guns in the nation every day.
The damage caused by gun-related injuries rarely gets the same attention as fatalities, “but that every day, 20 of our children are hospitalized for firearms injury, often suffering severe and costly injuries, clearly shows that this is a national public health problem,” says Robert Sege, director of the Division of Family and Child Advocacy at Boston Medical Center and a co-author of the study.
Children who survive firearm injuries often require extensive follow-up treatment, including rehabilitation, home health care, hospital readmission from delayed effects of the injury, and mental health or social services, Sege says.
Firearm injuries remain the second leading cause of death in America (right behind motor vehicle crashes), despite those rates declining over the past decade.
The study also found that:
- The most common types of firearm injuries included open wounds (52%), fractures (50%) and internal injuries of the thorax, abdomen or pelvis (34%).
- In children under age 10, 75% of hospitalizations were due to unintentional injuries.
- Rates were highest for those ages 15 to 19 (27.94 per 100,000.)
- Of all hospitalizations, 89% were males; the hospitalization rate for males was 15.22 per 100,000, compared with 1.93 per 100,000 for females. The hospitalization rate for black males was 44.77 per 100,000, more than 10 times that for white males.
- The study detailed a significant racial gap: Black children and adolescents comprised 47% of all hospitalizations, 54% of hospitalizations resulting from assaults, 36% from unintentional injuries and 54% from undetermined causes.
That data, however, did not allow researchers to “separate the effects of poverty from the effects of race,” or indicate which types of guns were used.
Still, the findings emphasize a need to address gun violence in the country and encourage public health research to find the best way to reduce children’s access to firearms.
In the absence of such research, Sege says, the best advice is to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that “the safest home for children and teens is one without guns,” and if there are guns in the home, they should be “stored unloaded and locked, with the ammunition locked away in a separate place.”
SOURCE: USA Today | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty