A new study released Monday shows nearly one child or teen an hour is injured by a gun seriously enough to require hospitalization. And this latest study in February's Pediatrics finds that of the 20 firearm injuries per day that send our kids to the hospital, six percent result in death, according to USA Today on Jan. 27.
Children who do survive gunshot injuries often require extensive follow-up treatment, including physical rehabilitation, home health care and readmission to hospitals due to delayed effects from the injury.
They may also require mental health or social services, says study co-author Dr. Robert Sege, director of the Division of Family and Child Advocacy at Boston Medical Center.
Although a number of past studies have used vital statistics data to examine pediatric deaths related to guns, this is the first to highlight the hardship of non-lethal injuries using the hospitalization data.
The collateral damage caused by gun-related injuries rarely garners the same attention as fatalities, "but that every day, 20 of our children are hospitalized for firearms injury, often suffering severe and costly injuries, clearly shows that this is a national public health problem", Dr. Sege said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite declining rates over the past decade, firearm injuries are still the second leading cause of death behind motor vehicle crashes for teens aged 15 to 19.
Sege believes this latest research highlights the need for additional funding for public health research to find the best way to reduce children's access to firearms.
Until then, Sege says the best advice to follow comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They contend that the safest home for children and teens is one absent of guns.
And if there are guns in the home, they should be stored unloaded in a locked container, with any ammunition also locked away in a separate location.