Almost 1,300 American kids are killed in shootings each year, making gun violence the third-leading cause of death among children 17 and under, a study released Monday found.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) culled emergency room records, death certificates, coroner's reports, police files, and more from three national databases for the study, published in the journal Pediatrics. With that data, the CDC was able to map the sex, age, location, and race or ethnicity of each victim, offering the sharpest look at the nationwide epidemic to date.
Of the estimated 1,300 children fatally shot each year, roughly 53 percent are victims of homicide, 38 percent die by suicide, and 6 percent are involved in accidental shootings, the study found. An additional 5,790 children are wounded by gunshots each year, but survive their injuries.
"These are preventable injuries that have a major public health impact on early death and disability among children," the study's lead author, Katherine Fowler, told CNN. "Preventing such injuries and ensuring that all children have safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments remains one of our most important priorities."
Fowler and her colleagues found that boys comprise a majority of those killed or injured in shootings. About 82 percent of kids 17 and under who are fatally shot are male, as are the roughly 84 percent of those who survive gunshot wounds.
The study also found that about four out of every 100,000 black children die in gun-related homicides—the highest rate among any racial group. It's more than ten times that of non-Hispanic white and Asian American children.
However, non-Hispanic white and American Indian/Alaska Native children account for the highest rates of suicide by firearm—four to five times greater than other racial and ethnic groups. As the study points out, firearm suicides among kids as a whole are on the rise, spiking by about 60 percent from 2007 to 2014. Overall, the study found that guns were responsible for more than 10 percent of all child fatalities in 2014 and 2015.
Ruth Abaya—a pediatric doctor and assistant professor at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia—told CBS News that while the CDC's findings were "staggering," they weren't surprising.
"Their numbers verified a lot of observations we've seen in regards to gun violence, gun death and unintentional injury to children over the years," she told CBS. "I think that the take-home for me is that we're going to need a multi-pronged approach to gun violence prevention in this country for it to be affective."