Guns, the Leading Cause of Death Among Children of All Ages
The Never-Ending Damage
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Breaking with tradition and thus instead of reminiscing about notable persons who’ve died during the year, the Sunday, December 18, 2022 issue of The New York Times Magazine devoted itself exclusively to children who lost their lives to Gun violence. With great sadness, it profiled 12 children in particular recounting briefly the circumstances under which they were killed[i].
In addition, commentaries that were featured throughout made painfully clear the horrid nature of Gun violence. For most of our Nation’s history, Disease has been the number one killer of children. Then, with the widespread advent of cars in the 1960’s, motor-vehicle crashes became the most common ways in which children died. While it was flat for nearly a decade, the Gun-Death rate for children is now essentially five in a 100,000 making Guns the leading killer. Indeed, roughly 3,600 children died last year by Gunfire, the highest in more than 20 years.
Sadly, last year, nearly two-thirds of Gun-Deaths, about 2,300, were homicides. And tragically, nearly 1,100 died by suicide, or approximately 30 percent of all deaths.
Perhaps most disturbing of all is that researchers who study Gun violence around the world have found that the U.S. is an extreme outlier among Western Industrialized Nations. Thus, while the U.S. accounted for 46 percent of the population of children, it accounted for 97 percent of all child Gun deaths. The increased availability of Handguns, which are stored less safely than other types, make them readily available for both homicides and suicides.
Living in poor neighborhoods where the Fear of violence is pronounced, the Deathrate for Black and Brown children is especially high. Last year, it was 26 out of 100,000 for Black boys and less than five out of every 100,000 for Whites. And as one would expect, children in big cities are much more at risk than those is small towns.
Finally, a 31 percent increase in Gun Deaths for children 17 and 18 since 2019 is worrisome enough, but an increase of 74 percent for children 9 and younger is monstrous.
Given that Fear is primarily responsible for the purchase of Guns, it’s virtually impossible to overcome our obsession by Reason.
The result? A never-ending spate of deaths due to the endless proliferation of Guns. Is there no end to our interminable nightmare?
[i] The New York Times Magazine, Sunday, December 18, 2022.
Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He Is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid, Springer, New York, 2022.
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