Representational image PIXABAY

NEW YORK CITY - Injuries and deaths resulting from firearms have significantly increased in recent years in the United States, particularly during the pandemic. This rise has adversely affected children and adolescents, particularly the Black and Hispanic youth, a new KFF analysis of federal data shows.

The analysis, based on data from Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Wonder injury and mortality base, reveals that from 2012 to 2022, nearly 19,700 children ages 17 and younger died by firearm.

This trend slowed down in 2019 before sharply rising once again with the onset of the pandemic, and then holding steady in 2022.

Similarly, firearm deaths among children and adolescents have increased over the past decades, resulting in 1,674 deaths in 2022. Leading up to the pandemic, gun assaults made up about half of all child and adolescent firearm deaths. However, from 2019 to 2022, the share of these firearm deaths attributed to gun assaults grew from 54% to 66%, the study reveals.

These developments have proven to disproportionately impact youth of color, who lead the charts when it comes to those impacted by gun violence among children and adolescents.

Firearm death rates grew 73% among Hispanic kids, going from 1.5 deaths per 100,000 to 2.6 per 100,000. These figures can be seen among other minorities of color.

Comparatively, Black children made up 14% of the country's youth population but nearly half of all firearm deaths among kids in 2022. The rate of firearm deaths among Black children doubled from 6 per 100,000 to 12.2 per 100,000 between 2018 and 2022, and is six times the rate of that for white children, according to the study.

For both of these demographics, gun assaults were the primary cause of death. The gun assault death rate among Hispanic youth doubled between 2018 and 2022, from 0.9 to 2.0 per 100,000.

Exposure to gun violence can happen in different ways. Neighborhood violence, suicide, domestic partner violence and mass shootings are some of the most common ways in which children— and people in general— become acquainted with this type of violence.

The study also reveals some of the effects that gun violence can have on young people. Mental health seems to be the primary victim in these scenarios.

"Exposure to gun violence is linked to post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, in addition to other mental health concerns among youth" the study reads. For children, when these mental illnesses go untreated, they can present challenges such as decreased school performance, including absenteeism— not doing work— and difficulty concentrating.

This study follows another series of gun violence incidents in the U.S., which has sparked debates and demands for further gun control laws.

Earlier this month, a shooting at a Bronx subway platform left a Mexican father and husband dead. The shooting was carried out by a 16-year-old gang member.

Similarly, following the Super Bowl, a Tejano woman was killed in Kansas City at a celebratory parade for the Kansas City Chiefs' victory.

"The reality is that a lot of this can be prevented," Vice President Kamala Harris said on social media after the shooting at Kansas City. "If members of the legislature, including the United States Congress just have the courage to act with reasonable gun safety laws."

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