According to a new study published in Pediatrics, 20 children a day are hospitalized for gunshot wounds in the United States. The study also found that 9 out of 10 cases involved male patients, with black boys being hospitalized 10 times as often as white boys.
Out of the over 7,000 hospitalizations of children, 453 died while in the hospital, according to Dr. John Leventhal, the study’s lead study and a Yale professor of pediatrics.
“Three firearms-related patients each day are younger than 15 years of age,” Leventhal said. “This is a tragedy. There are substantial injuries to these children that may have lifelong consequences.”
The most common types of firearm injuries were open wounds (52 percent), fractures (50 percent), and internal injuries of the chest, abdomen or pelvis (34 percent), the report showed.
“Those don’t necessarily heal,” Leventhal said. “Those children will struggle with these injuries for the rest of their lives.”
More than half of the gun injuries involved an attack on the child, but nearly one-third were unintentional, the investigators found.
- Three of four hospitalizations of children younger than 10 resulted from accidental injuries.
- About 84 percent of these shootings involved teens aged 15 to 19.
- Two-thirds of reported injuries were related to assaults.
“Some of these are school shootings, some are gang-related, some are related to fights or disagreements,” Leventhal said. “They all relate to access to guns.”
The authors of the study say parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations regarding firearms.
“The AAP recommends that the safest home for a family is a home without guns,” said study co-author Dr. Robert Sege, a pediatrician and director of the division of family and child advocacy at Boston Medical Center. “If there is a gun in the home, the gun should be stored unloaded and locked, and the ammunition should be stored separately.”
Benjamin said society as a whole should place renewed emphasis on making guns safer.
“We’ve made cars much, much safer without outlawing cars,” he said. “A comprehensive strategy which makes firearms safer and people safer with their firearms would dramatically reduce firearm deaths and injuries.”
The new study was published online Jan. 27 and in the February print issue of Pediatrics.