The Impact of Gun Violence on American Children and Teenagers

March 13, 2019

Gun violence has a devastating impact on American children and teenagers. Nearly 2,900 children and teens (ages 0 to 19) are shot and killed and nearly 15,600 are shot and injured every year — that’s an average of 51 American children and teens shot every day.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports, Nonfatal Injury Reports. A yearly average was developed using five years of most recent available data: 2013 to 2017. Children and teenagers aged 0 to 19. And the effects of gun violence extend far beyond those struck by a bullet: gun violence shapes the lives of the millions of children who witness it, know someone who was shot, or live in fear of the next shooting.

CHILD AND TEEN GUN DEATHS PER YEAR, BY INTENT:Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. Data reflect a five-year average (2013 to 2017) of gun deaths by intent. Homicide intent includes gun deaths by homicide and legal intervention. Intent category averages may not total to yearly average due to rounding. Children and teenagers aged 0 to 19.
Teen Children Graph

Gun violence is now the second leading cause of death for American children.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports, Leading Causes of Death, United States. Data from 2017. Children and teenagers aged 1 to 19, number of deaths by known intent (homicide, suicide, unintentional deaths). Age 0 to 1 calculated separately by the CDC because leading causes of death for newborns and infants are specific to the age group.
This is a uniquely American problem. Compared to other high-income countries, American children aged 5 to 14 are 21 times more likely to be killed with guns; and American adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 are 23 times more likely to be killed with guns.Grinshteyn E, Hemenway D. Violent death rates in the US compared to those of the other high-income countries, 2015. Preventive Medicine. 2019; 123: 20-26.

When American children and teens are killed with guns, 58 percent are homicides — about 1,700 per year.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. A yearly average was developed using five years of most recent available data: 2013 to 2017. Children and teenagers aged 0 to 19, homicide includes legal intervention. For children under the age of 13, these gun homicides most frequently occur in the home and are often connected to domestic or family violence.Fowler KA, Dahlberg LL, Haileyesus T, Gutierrez C, Bacon S. Childhood firearm injuries in the United States. Pediatrics. 2017; 140(1).

Another 36 percent of child and teen gun deaths are suicides—over 1,000 per year.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. A yearly average was developed using five years of most recent available data: 2013 to 2017. Children and teenagers aged 0 to 19. When children under the age of 18 die by gun suicide, they are likely to have used a gun they found at home: over 80 percent of child gun suicides used a gun belonging to a parent or relative.Johnson RM, Barber C, Azrael D, Clark DE, Hemenway D. Who are the owners of rearms used in adolescent suicides? Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. 2010; 40(6): 609-611. For people of all ages, having access to a gun significantly increases the risk of death by suicide and homicide.Anglemyer A, Horvath T, Rutherford G. The accessibility of firearms and risk for suicide and homicide victimization among household members: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine 2014; 160(2), 101:110.

Gun violence disproportionately impacts Black children and teens, who are nearly four times more likely than white children and teens to be killed with guns.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. A yearly average was developed using five years of most recent available data: 2013 to 2017. Children and teenagers aged 0 to 19. This is driven by a substantial disparity in gun homicide rates: Black children and teens are 14 times more likely than white children and teens of the same age to die by gun homicide.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. A yearly average was developed using five years of most recent available data: 2013 to 2017. Analysis includes: ages 0 to 19, Black and white defined as non-Hispanic only, and homicide including legal intervention. Firearms are the leading cause of death for Black children and teens.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. Leading Causes of Death, United States. Data from 2017. Children and teenagers aged 1 to 19, Black defined as non-Hispanic, number of deaths by known intent (homicide, suicide, unintentional deaths). Age 0 to 1 calculated separately by the CDC because leading causes of death for newborns and infants are specific to the age group.

An estimated 3 million American children witness gun violence every year.Finkelhor D, Turner HA, Shattuck A, Hamby SL. Prevalence of childhood exposure to violence, crime, and abuse: Results from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence. The Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics. 2015; 169(8): 746-754. Everytown analysis derives the 3 million number by multiplying the share of children (ages 0 to 17) who reported exposure to gun violence within the past year in a 2014 survey (4 percent) by the total child population of the U.S. in 2014 (~73.6M). Witnessing shootings can have a devastating impact. Children exposed to violence, crime, and abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder; fail or have difficulties in school; and engage in criminal activity.Finkelhor D, Turner HA, Ormrod R, Hamby S, Kracke K. Children’s exposure to violence: A comprehensive national survey. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; 2009.,Morris E. Youth violence: Implications for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in urban youth. National Urban League. March 2009. https://bit.ly/2KBpOyg.

In America, children and teenagers are victimized by gun violence every single day. No child should experience this — not in their schools,For more information on school safety, see: https://everytownresearch.org/keeping-our-schools-safe/. not in their homes, and not in their communities.