Gun Violence is a Public Health Crisis
Gun violence is a public health crisis that jeopardizes children's health and safety.
Pediatricians regularly treat children injured or killed by firearms: toddlers who find loaded guns in the home; children who experience gun violence in their communities or at school; and adolescents who attempt suicide. Mass shootings continue to unfold in places that should be safe havens for children, like school. In addition, daily acts of gun violence—suicide, homicide, unintentional shootings—injure and kill children at alarming rates. Exposure to gun violence also contributes to toxic stress and harms children’s health and development.
Just like any other public health crisis affecting children, we need a rigorous scientific approach informed by research that can keep children safe and promote their lifelong health and well-being.
Disproportionate Impact on Communities of Color
Our nation’s epidemic of gun violence has roots in centuries of violence and trauma perpetrated against historically under-resourced communities and structural racism, particularly anti-Black racism, that leaves communities of color disproportionately harmed by gun violence.
Firearms are the leading cause of death for Black youth aged 1 - 19. Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Indigenous youth are also more likely to die from firearm homicide than their white counterparts. Exposure to gun violence in disproportionately affected communities contributes to trauma and other health inequities, with lifelong implications that exacerbate unacceptable health disparities.
A public health approach to gun violence prevention is urgently needed to address the disproportionate burden of this epidemic on communities of color, promote child health equity, and ensure all children can be safe where they live, learn, and play.
American Academy of Pediatrics