Child Homicide Stats Are Staggering

Child murder rate rose 28% in 2020, with Black children disproportionately affected
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2022 8:08 AM CST
Child Homicide Stats Are Staggering
Yazmin P. Meza and her daughter Gerasmin Soto pray while she holds a poster board with pictures of the victims and family of a recent homicide, in which five children and an adult were killed, in Muskogee, Okla., on Feb. 3, 2021.   (John Clanton/Tulsa World via AP)

Homicide is now "the leading cause of death among American children, making the United States an outlier among similarly developed nations," the New York Times reports. Homicides of children were up 28% in the first year of the pandemic as 2,058 children aged 17 and under were killed, up from 1,611 in 2019, according to a study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, which used data from 45 states. About half the homicides were caused by firearms. A separate study also published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics found there was a 52% increase in firearm injuries treated at children's hospitals between April 2020 and December 2021. There were 2,759 in that period, compared to 1,815 between April 2018 to December 2019.

The majority of homicides occurred among Black children in 2020. For this group, the homicide rate rose 16.6% from 2018 to 2020, per CNN. "Black boys ages 16 to 17 had a homicide rate that was 18 times higher than that of white boys and 4.6 times higher than in Hispanic boys," the outlet reports. The study authors say this is likely tied to the effects of racial segregation, including "concentrated poverty, segregated and underfunded educational systems, environmental hazards, lack of safe play spaces and limited opportunity." Authority figures also perceive Black children as "less childlike and innocent" and "more culpable for their actions" with "fewer childhood protections and benefit compared to their white peers," according to researchers.

The overall rate of child homicide has climbed an average of 4.3% per year since 2013, CNN reports. However, the rate has declined for white children as well as Asian or Pacific Islander children, girls, and children under 6. Boys and older children were more likely to be killed by gun violence than girls and younger children. Younger children are often killed in or near their own home by parents and caregivers following abuse, while older children and teenagers are often killed in public places by acquaintances or strangers, the Times reports. "More targeted strategies are needed" to protect those aged 6 to 17 and to "urgently address firearm violence, racism, and inequities at the root of youth violence," the study notes. (More child murder stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.