116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Thousands of children are shot each year in the United States, and many of them die of their injuries, according to a comprehensive new study of gun violence published in the journal Pediatrics.
The study, conducted by statisticians at the CDC and the University of Texas, found that roughly 7,100 children under the age of 18 were shot each year from 2012 to 2014. An average of 1,300 died of their injuries in a typical year.
That works out to 19 kids shot every single day in the course of a year -- or 3.5 kids killed by guns every single day.
They're staggering numbers, as the authors point out. 'Firearm-related deaths are the third leading cause of death overall among US children aged 1 to 17 years,” they write, 'surpassing the number of deaths from pediatric congenital anomalies, heart disease, influenza and/or pneumonia, chronic lower respiratory disease, and cerebrovascular causes.”
Gun violence is so prevalent among children that a 2014 federal survey found that '4.2% of children aged 0 to 17 in the United States have witnessed a shooting in the past year,” as the authors note.
It's hard to wrap your head around the totality of these numbers. In the interest of bringing them down to human scale, here's a thought experiment: what if every child shot in a typical year were enrolled at the same school?
Welcome to the Gun Violence Academy.
With an enrollment of 7,100, it's one of the largest public schools in the United States. Assuming two kids to a seat in the standard school bus, the school needs a fleet of about 142 buses to ferry America's shot kids to and from school.
As the kids get off the buses you notice that enrollment in this school is highly lopsided: nearly nine out of ten kids who get shot in the U.S. are between the ages of 12 and 17. Little kids just don't get shot as often as older ones.
When little kids get shot it tends to happen at home, and it's often a parental figure pulling the trigger, according to the study. By contrast, most teenagers are shot in public places -- streets, alleyways -- by either their peers or slightly older kids.
While Gun Violence Academy is not an all-boys school, it's close: eight out of ten children shot in the U.S. are boys.
How did these kids all get hurt? In most cases -- seven out of 10 -- someone else intentionally shot them. This is particularly the case for younger kids, who often get harmed along with other family members in a domestic violence situation.
Two in 10 of the students at our school purposefully shot themselves in a suicide attempt. And three in 10 kids who attempted to harm themselves with a gun succeeded in killing themselves.
Finally, one kid out of the 10 inadvertently shoots himself, or was accidentally shot by someone else.
Now for the saddest news of all: not all of these kids are going to make it through the school year. Nearly 1,300 kids are shot and killed each year. They'll never write sappy messages in their friends' yearbooks, prepare for summer sports or family trips, or walk up on stage to Pomp and Circumstance to collect their diploma.
Of the kids killed in gun violence, over half of them are non-white. Black students specifically are 10 times as likely as white students to be a victim of gun homicide.
Looking at it another way: two out of every 10 of our students will be dead before next summer.
We needed 142 buses to bring these kids to school at the start of the school year. But we'll only need 113 to bring the survivors back home this June.
Those 1,300 child victims of gun violence will leave 29 empty school buses in their wake.