Posts Tagged ‘ gun violence ’

The Year After Newtown: 100 Children Have Died in Unintentional Gun Shootings

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Gun on a wooden tableThere’s no doubt that the discussion about gun control and gun violence has increased since the Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown two years ago.

A new study (“Innocents Lost: A Year of Unintentional Child Gun Deaths“) just released by Everytown for Gun Safety reveals that between December 2012 and December 2013 at least 100 kids (younger than 14 years old) across the nation have died as a result of accidental shootings. Toddlers (ages 2 to 4) were more likely to die from self-inflicted shooting while school-age kids (ages 12 to 14) were more likely to die from a peer shooting.

The Huffington Post reports:

Unintentional shootings of children occurred most often in places familiar to those who were killed. Eighty-four percent of victims were killed in their home, the home of a friend, or the family car, according to the study. In 76 percent of the cases, the gun belonged to a parent or other family member.The killings occurred more often in small towns and rural areas than in cities. They occurred in 35 states.

The findings from Everytown came from an extensive review of news stories and subscription services in the 12 months following the December 2012 shooting in at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which resulted in the deaths of 20 students and six school employees. Researchers with the group followed up with law enforcement officials in cases where there was any ambiguity. If it remained unclear whether the shooting was accidental, the researchers did not count it.

As a percentage of total victims of gun violence, children who are unintentionally killed is quite small. But the 100 shootings over the course of the year averages out to almost two per week.

Part of the problem, Everytown argues, is poor education about the dangers of firearms and how to safely store them. The group advocates “well-tailored child safety” laws, including those “imposing criminal liability” for irresponsible gun storage. The report cites Florida’s “Child Access Prevention” law as one to emulate.

Reducing Gun Violence
Reducing Gun Violence
Reducing Gun Violence


Image: 9 mm gun on wooden table via Shutterstock

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Are Schools Becoming Anti-Boy? One Writer Says Yes

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

A recent essay on TIME magazine’s website argues that schools are becoming “hostile environments for young boys.” In the aftermath of school violence in places including Newtown, Connecticut, many schools have adopted zero tolerance policies related to firearms, but those rules are sometimes interpreted very strictly, with boys as young as seven being suspended for pretending to “shoot” bad guys with pencils, or for throwing imaginary hand grenades. As a result, writer Christina Hoff Sommers worries that schools are no longer letting boys engage in the action-oriented, good-guys-versus-bad-guys play that she says comes naturally to them.

Here’s more from her essay on

Across the country, schools are policing and punishing the distinctive, assertive sociability of boys. Many much-loved games have vanished from school playgrounds. At some schools, tug of war has been replaced with “tug of peace.” Since the 1990s, elimination games like dodgeball, red rover and tag have been under a cloud—too damaging to self-esteem and too violent, say certain experts. Young boys, with few exceptions, love action narratives. These usually involve heroes, bad guys, rescues and shoot-ups. As boys’ play proceeds, plots become more elaborate and the boys more transfixed. When researchers ask boys why they do it, the standard reply is, “Because it’s fun.”

According to at least one study, such play rarely escalates into real aggression—only about 1% of the time. But when two researchers, Mary Ellin Logue and Hattie Harvey, surveyed classroom practices of 98 teachers of 4-year-olds, they found that this style of play was the least tolerated. Nearly half of teachers stopped or redirected boys’ dramatic play daily or several times a week—whereas less than a third reported stopping or redirecting girls’ dramatic play weekly.

Play is a critical basis for learning. And boys’ heroic play is no exception. Logue and Harvey found that “bad guy” play improved children’s conversation and imaginative writing. Such play, say the authors, also builds moral imagination, social competence and imparts critical lessons about personal limits and self-restraint. Logue and Harvey worry that the growing intolerance for boys’ action-narrative-play choices may be undermining their early language development and weakening their attachment to school.

Readers, what do you think? Is your child’s school a boy-friendly environment?


Image: Boy at blackboard, via Shutterstock

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Pediatricians: Gun Violence Is a Public Safety Issue

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

In a move that is drawing a variety of opinions from people on every side of the debate over gun violence, the American Academy of Pediatrics appealed to Congress this month to pass legislation that includes an assault weapon ban, mandatory background checks and waiting periods before all firearm purchases, a ban on high-capacity magazines, handgun regulations and requirements for safe firearm storage under federal law.  NBC News has more:

“I think we can be honest brokers,” says Dr. Lolita McDavid, medical director for child advocacy and protection at University Hospitals, part of Case Western Reserve University’s school of medicine in Cleveland.

“We have to have a collectively louder voice,” Dr. Danielle Laraque, who chairs the pediatrics department at Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital in Brooklyn, told a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. “What we need is a call to action, to really look at how we can change public policy that is not often affected by data.”

They don’t always get a friendly reception. Just two weeks before the doctors arrived, Congress had scuttled what gun-control advocates had considered a modest bill to expand background checks for gun sales.

Congress had already dropped a wider measure pushed by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden after the December shootings of 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Conn.

Image: Gun trigger, via Shutterstock

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Kids At Risk for Suicide Have Gun Access, Study Finds

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

As many as one in five American children who are considered to be at risk of committing suicide have access to guns–the most effective method of killing yourself–in their homes, says a new study that was presented to the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting this week in Washington, DC. NBC News has more:

They said their findings show it’s extremely important to screen children for suicide risk, and to educate parents about how to keep guns out of their hands if they are. And early treatment is also vital.

The researchers, who presented their findings at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Washington, D.C., say they don’t want their results to get mixed up in the current debate over firearms regulation. They just want to keep kids safe.

“A lot of kids, surprisingly, don’t have a history of mental illness but they attempt suicide,” says Dr. Stephen Teach, an emergency room doctor at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Suicide is the No. 3 cause of death for children and youths aged 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 4,600 kids and young adults kill themselves each year, and 45 percent of them use guns. Another 40 percent suffocate or strangle themselves and 8 percent poison themselves.

“Guns are the most lethal method that is commonly used in suicide attempts,” says Dr. Matt Miller, an injury control expert at the Harvard School of Public Health. People who try to commit suicide using pills or by cutting themselves complete the suicide just 3 percent of the time, he said.

Teach and colleagues made their discovery while trying to come up with an easy, short questionnaire for emergency room doctors to use while seeing children for a range of troubles. Their study included 524 patients ages 10 to 21 being seen at three pediatric emergency rooms.

“When we were asking kids these questions, we also asked kids questions about firearms and bullets. To our surprise, one-fifth reported firearms in the home,” Teach said in an interview. “That’s a pretty volatile mix. Nearly half of all completed suicides involve firearms, which is pretty scary.”

Image: Depressed child, via Shutterstock

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4-Year-Old Boy Kills Self with Father’s Stolen Gun

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

A 4-year-old Houston boy has died after he picked up a handgun and shot himself, NBC News is reporting, adding that the gun belonged to the boy’s father and was stolen.  More from NBC:

Marquiez Deshon Pratt, 21, was asleep on the couch when his son, Jaiden, picked up the gun and shot himself in the stomach, according to a report from the Houston Police Department.

The weapon, a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol, was stolen during a burglary in 2011, according to the police report.

Jaiden was spending the weekend with his father when the incident occurred. The boy’s mother dropped him off every Friday and was scheduled to pick him up Sunday at noon, according to the Houston Chronicle.

After the shooting, the elder Pratt ran out of his second-floor apartment with his son in his arms, yelling to his neighbors for help, according to the Houston Chronicle.

When officers arrived, Pratt handed his son over to them and ran back to his apartment.

While some officers pursued Pratt, others performed CPR on the young victim, but the boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

Image: Handgun, via Shutterstock

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