More than twice as many school-age kids were shot dead in America in 2017 as US forces killed on active service around the world and US police officers killed on duty put together.
The toll of 2,462 gun-related deaths among school-age children are increasing at “alarming” rates in the United States, warns the shocking new study.
Murder rates in the US are around six to nine times higher than those in comparably developed countries, according to the study.
Researchers examined trends in gun deaths among US schoolchildren by age and race from 1999 to 2017.
The findings, published in the American Journal of Medicine, show that from 1999 to 2017, 38,942 firearm-related deaths occurred in five to 18-year-olds.
The shocking figure included 6,464 deaths of children between the ages of five to 14 years old – an average of 340 gun deaths per year, and 32,478 deaths in children between the ages of 15 and 18 years – an average of 2,050 deaths per year.
Study senior author Professor Charles Hennekens, of Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine, said: “It is sobering that in 2017, there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty and about 1,000 active duty military throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-age children were killed by firearms.”
He said statistically significant increases in firearm-related deaths began in 2009, with the first “epidemic” among five to 14 year olds followed by a second epidemic that began in 2014 among 15 to 18-year-olds.
The worrying trend continued through 2017, the most recent year for which U.S. mortality figures are currently available.
Percentages of all deaths due to firearms were 5.6 at ages five to 14-years-old and 19.9 at ages 15 to 18-years-old.
Black children aged five to 14 suffered “statistically significant” increases in firearm-related deaths beginning in 2013.
Between 2013 and 2017, racial inequalities in firearm-related deaths between black and white youngsters increased significantly among five to 14-year-olds as well as 15 to 18-year-olds.
The listed cause of deaths in the school-age children were, 61 per cent due to assault; 32 per cent due to suicide; five per cent accidental; and two per cent undetermined.
Black youngsters accounted for 41 per cent of overall deaths, and 86 per cent of all deaths were in boys.
Among the five to 14-year-olds, cause of death was classified as accident 12.8 per cent (830 deaths); suicide 29.6 per cent (1,912 deaths); assault 54.8 per cent (3,545 deaths), and undetermined, 2.7 per cent (177 deaths).
Among the 15 to 18 year olds, cause of death was classified as accident (3.5 per cent); suicide (32.9 per cent); assault (62.3 per cent), and undetermined (1.3 per cent). There were no deaths classified as terrorism.
The research team believe that fighting the surge in firearms deaths among American youngsters without addressing gun control is similar to tackling lung cancer due to cigarettes without addressing cigarettes.