US shootings hit record number of children and teens in 2022

It was less than an hour in 2022 when the first child was shot. The 14-year-old was standing outside watching fireworks in St. Louis when a bullet hit her in the arm.

In the year since, more than 6,000 children and teenagers have been injured or killed in shootings, according to the non-profit organization Gun Violence Archive. That’s the highest in a single year since the database began tracking nine years ago.

As the gun violence epidemic continues to wreak havoc across the country, here’s how shootings affected America’s children in 2022.

What to know about child gun deaths and injuries in 2022

  • More than 1,300 teenagers (ages 12 to 17) were killed and nearly 3,800 injured in 2022, records show. More than 300 children (aged 11 and under) were killed and nearly 700 injured. These figures include homicides, accidental discharges and more, but do not include suicides.
  • While the number of children injured and killed by gun violence has remained stable in recent years, the number of adolescents has been increasing every year since at least 2019, records show.
  • A decade after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School claimed the lives of 20 first graders and six staff, dozens of children have been killed at the school and there has been a record number of shootings on school grounds.

The number of children killed or injured in 2022 is the most recorded

What contributes to the increase in gun violence?

The rise in gun deaths and injuries among children is primarily due to a sharp rise in homicides, said Mark Bryant, executive director of the Gun Violence Archive.

That’s partly due to increasing access to firearms, said Dr. Lois Lee, associate professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School. Gun purchases have increased over the past two years and some states have relaxed rules for buying and carrying guns, Lee said. A Supreme Court ruling in June also made it easier to carry guns and inspired a flurry of laws and lawsuits.

“As more households buy guns for whatever reason, more teens have easy access to misplaced guns,” Bryant said. He noted that gun fights between teenagers often result in others being caught in the crossfire.

Dr. Samaa Kemal, a pediatric emergency physician at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, said contributing factors also include: worsening mental health crisis in children and ongoing difficulties in the COVID-19 pandemic, such as financial constraints, diminishing community resources and increasing social isolation.

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What about school shootings?

Of all the children affected by gun violence last year, a small percentage were shot at school.

In 2022, there were 50 school shootings that resulted in injuries or deaths, according to Education Week. At least 31 children were killed in the shooting, including 19 murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

The K-12 School Shooting Database, which uses a broader metric, said the United States has seen more shootings on school grounds — with more victims injured or killed — in 2022 than any other year since 1970.

Last year was also notable because there were three “worst-case planned attacks,” said David Riedman, the database’s principal researcher:

“In each of these cases, the shooter knew the school’s plan for an active shooter and figured out how to defeat it,” Riedman said.

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USA Today

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