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What is Childhood’s Greatest Danger?

I recently read a New York Times article about the greatest danger to our children in America.  As we consider the safety and care for our children it is alarming to know what the greatest threat to their lives is. Not of any surprise is the reality of kids being killed by guns. Here are some of the excerpts and points made by this article published in December of 2022.

The gun-death rate for children is nearly five in every 100,000. It was flat for more than a decade starting in 2000, and most years fewer than three in every 100,000 children were killed by guns. In 2014, the rate began to creep up, and by 2020 guns became the leading killer.

Last year was a particularly violent one: 3,597 children died by gunfire, according to provisional statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death rate from guns was the highest it has been in more than 20 years. While the statistics for this year are incomplete, it is clear that the carnage has not receded.

Historically we have moved from the lead killer of children as disease, then it was car accidents and now we are in the age of gun deaths and statistics. These incidences of gun violence among our youth are indicative of an attitude around values changing. This attitude has permeated our society and reached into the lives of families who are grieving over the loss of a child. Further it has brought high threat levels to schools, neighborhoods and communities.

Researchers who study gun violence say that it is difficult to explain exactly why gun deaths among children have risen so quickly, but most emphasize that the increased availability of guns — especially handguns, which tend to be used in homicides and suicides and also tend to be stored less safely than some other types of guns — has most likely played a role.

What is clear is that the United States is an extreme outlier when it comes to gun fatalities among children. When researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation recently compared a set of similarly large and wealthy nations, they found that among this group, the United States accounted for 46 percent of the child population but 97 percent of all child gun deaths.

It is shocking to see that gun violence among children in the U.S. leads the entire world. How did we get here? There is not a clear answer but clearly there is a problem that needs to be addressed that is a national issue in America. When we encounter kids who are struggling we seriously need to be aware of what issues our kids are facing, strive to ensure that their needs are met in a healthy way, role model anti-violent values and attempt to grant them the mentorship and skills to resolve their issues effectively. If we do not, we will not see these numbers and devastation continue to rise steadily.

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