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“Virtually no progress” in firearm deaths among children, says UM researcher

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In 2016, more than 3,000 children and teens were killed by firearms in the United States.

Eight children and teens die by firearms every day in the United States. 

That's according to a recently-published study examining the leading causes of child and teen death in the country. 

REbecca Cunningham smiling headshot
Credit University of Michigan
"Why are we not funding this cause of death at the same rate that we have funded the other leading causes of death?" - that's just one of the questions Dr. Rebecca Cunningham hopes lawmakers start asking about gun violence.

Dr. Rebecca Cunningham directs the University of Michigan Injury Prevention Center, and co-authored the study. She joined Stateside to talk about her research ahead of the first U.S. House congressional hearing on gun violence prevention since 2011, which is scheduled for Wednesday.

In 2016, 20,360 children and teens died in the United States. Sixty percent of those deaths were preventable, and more than 3,000 were due to firearms. 

The top three causes were, in order: motor vehicle crashes, firearms, and cancer.

Cunningham says that all three causes of death have remained relatively stable over the past several decades. But while youth deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes and cancer have steadily declined, the rate of firearm deaths has remained flat.

“We have made virtually no progress in the last 17 years and, in fact, we’re seeing an increase over the last three years. We see an increase of 32 percent up in gun homicide among children and teens, a 26 percent increase in suicide among children and teens,” Cunningham explained.

The report also finds that the rate of children and teen firearm deaths in the United States is more than 36 times as high as the average rate across 12 other high-income countries.

Listen to Stateside’s interview with Cunningham to learn about similarities and differences in youth firearm deaths across rural, suburban, and urban areas, and to hear what action she’s hoping to see from lawmakers in Washington.

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Isabella Isaacs-Thomas. 

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