The Associated Press released a pair of reports Sunday highlighting the impact of gun violence on youth across the country. Finding that gun violence is increasingly responsible for taking the lives of children and youth, one report noted 2021 was on pace to exceed last year with 1,179 youth dead and 3,292 injured.
In a second article Sunday, the Associated Press told the story of three children, ages 4-18, all victims of gun violence. Each story is heartbreaking with no easy answer or solution to bring comfort to the victims’ families. (Read more about all three children here).
The outlet cited expert statements finding the combination of idleness due to the pandemic and easy access to guns can lead to deadly incidents. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, the pandemic has exacerbated the gun crisis.
“Unprecedented increases in gun sales—coupled with financial insecurity, social isolation, and other stressors—are magnifying America’s gun violence crisis,” found the Children’s Defense Fund.
Data compiled by the Children’s Defense Fund showed that Black children and teens were 43 percent of gun deaths in 2019 but only 14 percent of all children and teens.
Violence prevention is tricky, with some leaders focusing more on zero-tolerance policies and criminalizing young people. Other strategies suggest a more holistic approach.
The Brennan Center highlighted the importance of addressing the root causes of gun violence instead of simply relying on the same systems that disproportionately punish communities of color. Part of these strategies includes mitigating financial stress and engaging youth.
“To adequately support community violence intervention, Congress must pass the American Jobs Plan which allocates $5 billion over eight years to community violence prevention programs and billions more to improving schools, expanding access to higher education, making homeownership more affordable, providing job training to young people, and promoting equitable infrastructure development,” read the Brennan Center report.
Earlier this month, gun violence prevention advocate Gabby Giffords penned an op-ed describing the disproportionate impact on communities of color. She also echoed the need for adequately funded violence prevention programs, citing President Joe Biden’s proposed $5 billion investment in community violence prevention programs.
“The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the consequences of our nation’s longstanding failure to pass policies to keep children safe where they live and learn,” continued the Children’s Defense Fund report. “Our leaders must not only advance meaningful solutions to address the COVID-19 crisis but also the ongoing gun violence crisis in America. We cannot allow children to die at the hands of these crises.”
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