Firearms: A Leading Cause of Death in Children
Sadly, gunshot wounds are a leading cause of death in children in the USA. Every day, on average,there are 25 children who get gunshot wounds, and five of those die from their wounds. With minimal effort from their parents, almost all of these deaths could be prevented!
Firearm Deaths Occur in the Home
A small percentage is due to gang violence in larger cities or rarely in school shootings, but the vast majority of shooting deaths occur in the home. New reports show that 90% of child gunshot deaths happen in the child's own home (50%) or in the home of a friend or relative (40%). It could easily happen in your home!
Prevention Is Simple
Keeping guns locked and not loaded is the major prevention. One survey revealed that 69% of parents admitted to having loaded guns in the home, which were not in a locked area.
There is a misconception that children are not strong enough to pull a trigger. Yet most children (even 75% of 5-year-olds) are strong enough to pull a 10-pound trigger, and 92% of guns have triggers at 10 pounds or less.
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that any guns be locked up, and not loaded, and that the ammunition be locked in a separate area. The AAP also recommends that guns not be kept inside the house if children live there, or visit there (grandparents, for example).
Another prevention is to limit children's exposure to TV violence. Kids imitate what they see on TV, including shooting real or imaginary guns at people. They will use whatever is available!
Other Risk Factors
Depression with or without suicidal thoughts can be a major risk factor for dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It is almost always an unexpected shock when a teen commits suicide. There are warning signs, usually seen after the fact, that might have been noticed. And lots of other kids are depressed and don't commit suicide. What makes the difference when a teen actually commits suicide? It often comes down to the simple fact of a gun being available at a time when a depressed teen is acting impulsively without thinking.
Domestic violence is another risk factor for gun-related deaths. Physical or mental injury to another family member is never normal! If someone in your family is injuring others, seek help! It WILL escalate and get worse if nothing is done. When guns are present in the home, there is a far greater risk of death from domestic violence.