African-American Children: Forgotten Victims of America’s Gun Violence
11 year old Naomi Wadler led a walkout at her elementary school as part of the March 14 national student-led event to protest gun violence. Less than two weeks later, she delivered a speech at March For Our Lives in Washington D.C, representing not students of Parkland, but the “the African-American women who [were] victims of gun violence.”
Wadler sheds light on a perspective that is often forgotten in the gun-violence debate. According to a June 2017 report from the CDC, the rate of firearm homicide of African American children in the United States is ten times higher than the same rate for white children. The same report cites that the difference “is largely a function of difference between racial and ethnic groups in firearm homicide.” Wadler adds a unique aspect to the debate and reminds us that gun violence and its connection to racial disparities is an everyday issue in the United States, regardless of media attention.
In a larger view, children comparatively suffer a significantly greater extent than adults from firearm injuries and deaths in the United States. The CDC report mentioned above states that 91 percent of the firearm deaths (aged 0-14 years) in high-income countries occur in the United States. Each day, approximately 19 children die or are treated for firearm injuries in the United States, signaling an epidemic that is unique to the United States, begging the question: what can be done to manage this problem?
The report finds that most children who die from unintentional firearm injuries are shot by another child in their age range, typically when children play with guns amongst each other. The study finds that child access prevention laws should be further implemented. Firearm homicides among children tend to occur at higher rates in the South and parts of the Midwest. The study does not elaborate on that finding.
To prevent gun-related suicides and peer violence, the CDC suggests the implementation of programs to help youths manage emotions and relationships. The report also recommends that healthcare professionals play a greater role in screening children for signs of depression and other mental health issues to ensure that children receive necessary care.
CDC researchers remind us that violence is often interconnected and that we should not forget economic factors that often affect such violence.
Wadler is just 11 years old, but highlights the significance of such violence among African American children in the context of a larger public health issue that affects all children.
Among high-income countries, the United States is unique in its dilemma with gun violence. How will lawmakers respond to these children and the violence that they face? Will they respond at all?