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Child death by gun violence increased during COVID-19 pandemic

Studies indicate that child deaths by gun violence were comparable to those by COVID-19.

An increase in deaths by gun violence in children was observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the years of 2020 to 2022, the number of children killed by gun violence is of a similar size to those killed directly by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Data was taken from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) to examine the rates of gun violence from January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2022. Investigators organized the data into periods of 28 days. Periods from the middle of March 2020 onward were compared with those prior. Subgroups were based on child age, household income, and percentage of Black or Hispanic population.

From March 2020 onward, an increase in child deaths by gun violence was observed. These deaths increased at an estimated rate of 1.12 children per day. During the study period, 733 child deaths were recorded. This figure compares to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recorded 752 child deaths caused directly by COVID-19 in the same time period.

In the child deaths from gun violence observed, 22.3% were children aged 0 to 11 years, while 77.7% were aged 12 to 17 years. Moreover, 19.6% of these deaths were girls, while 78.8% were boys, while the gender of 1.7% of the children was unknown.

Deaths from gun violence were most often seen increasing in low median income households, or in an area with a higher percentage of Black or Hispanic population. Nearly 60% of the recorded deaths were from a high-minority area, meaning that more than half of the population in these areas was Black or Hispanic. The study investigators deduced that, “family and neighborhood socioeconomic conditions may be important mediators.” 

The authors also mentioned other factors which may have led to an increase in gun violence but have not been proven. These include the closure of schools and the increase in stress within families due to lockdowns. Economic strain could also be a factor in gun-related deaths.

Reference

Peña PA, Jena A. Child deaths by gun violence in the us during the covid-19 pandemic. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(8):e2225339. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.25339