Homicide rates among children increased 52% during 2020 pandemic
Neglect and child abuse are considered two of the main factors leading to increasing homicide rates - mostly carried out by parents and those taking care of children.
A study published on Monday in JAMA Pediatrics showed increasing homicide rates among children following the pandemic, finding that the number of kids with gun injuries flooding hospitals in the US “significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and remained elevated throughout 2021.”
The study took count of “all children younger than 18 years diagnosed with firearm injury,” and used “data from the Pediatric Health Information System.”
According to the study, 1,815 gun injuries were calculated before the pandemic but 2,759 were recorded during the pandemic - indicating a 52% spike.
Although there “were no significant differences between cohorts by sex, household income, rurality, region, mortality, or intent,” the study revealed that kids ages 0 to 5 years old of a non-Hispanic black-race background, in addition to kids with public insurance, were those hurt the most by guns during Covid-19 as opposed to those harmed before the pandemic.
Read more: Gun violence in US leading cause of death among youth
“The COVID-19 pandemic was independently associated with increased monthly firearm injuries after controlling for all covariates,” the study stated, as Stephanie Iantorno, co-author, said per The Wall Street Journal: “This really highlights the fact that the leading cause of death in children and adolescents is firearms,”
Happens more 'inside or close to the home'
According to data by the Kaiser Family Foundation, "in 2020 (the most recent year with available data from the CDC), firearms were the number one cause of death for children aged 1-19 in the United States, taking the lives of 4,357 children,"
The WSJ cited researchers saying that "psychological stress and other factors associated with the pandemic might have played a role in the rise in the incidence of firearm injuries and homicides among children,"
In recent years, as data shows, the homicide rate among children has been on the rise “on average 4.3% since 2013,” and has gone up 27.7% from 2019 to 2020. Males, African-American children, Latino kids, kids in the south, and those residing in urban and rural regions count for the majority of these statistics. It also increased for kids aged 6 to 17 years.
On the other hand, since 1999, rates have gone down for girls, infants, and those between the ages of one and five years. Additionally, Asian or Pacific Islander children, white children, and kids in the Northeast counted for that range.
Co-author of the editorial with the study, Dr. Elinore J. Kaufman, relayed to the New York Times that most of these incidents occuring among children seem to take place usually inside or close to the home.
Read next: 10 years on Sandy Hook, US still plagued with school shootings
Neglect and child abuse are considered two of the main factors leading to increasing homicide rates, which are also mostly carried out by those taking care of children and parents - showing the stressful situations of families, she said. “I don’t think we’re doing a good job of taking care of families, and it shows,” Dr. Kaufman expressed.
Delays in preventative medical care, social isolation, and loss of school experience were among the outcomes of these occurrences and rates according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
It is worth noting that mass shootings have shocked the country on numerous occasions, reigniting debate on gun control, a contentious cultural issue that has made little progress in US Congress.
In June, US President Joe Biden pleaded for lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws, including a ban on assault weapons, in a bid to clamp down on unprecedented levels of mass shootings across the United States, which have been turning American communities into "killing fields". So far, no action has been taken.