Thousands of children are shot each year in the United States, and many of them die of their injuries, according to a comprehensive new study of gun violence published in the journal Pediatrics.
The study, conducted by statisticians at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of Texas, found that roughly 7,100 children under the age of 18 were shot each year from 2012 to 2014. An average of 1,300 died of their injuries in a typical year.
That works out to 19 children shot every single day in the course of a year — or 3.5 children killed by guns every single day.
They're staggering numbers, as the authors point out. “Firearm-related deaths are the third leading cause of death overall among US children aged 1 to 17 years,” they write, “surpassing the number of deaths from pediatric congenital anomalies, heart disease, influenza and/or pneumonia, chronic lower respiratory disease, and cerebrovascular causes.”
It's hard to wrap your head around the totality of these numbers. In the interest of bringing them down to human scale, here's a thought experiment: What if every child shot in a typical year was enrolled at the same school?
Welcome to the Gun Violence Academy.
With an enrollment of 7,100, it's one of the largest public schools in the United States. Assuming two riders to a seat in the standard school bus, the school needs a fleet of about 142 buses to ferry America's shot children to and from school.
As the students get off the buses you notice that enrollment in this school is highly lopsided: nearly 9 out of 10 children who get shot in the United States are between the ages of 12 and 17. Little children just don't get shot as often as older ones.
When little children get shot it tends to happen at home, and it's often a parental figure pulling the trigger, according to the study. By contrast, most teenagers are shot in public places — streets, alleyways — by either their peers or slightly older teens.
While Gun Violence Academy is not an all-boys school, it's close: 8 out of 10 children shot in the United States are boys.
How did these children all get hurt? In most cases — 7 out of 10 — someone else intentionally shot them. This is particularly the case for younger children, who often get harmed along with other family members in a domestic violence situation.
Two in 10 of the students at our school purposefully shot themselves in a suicide attempt. And 3 in 10 students who attempted to harm themselves with a gun succeeded in killing themselves.
Finally, 1 child out of the 10 inadvertently shot himself, or was accidentally shot by someone else.
Now for the saddest news of all: Not all of these students are going to make it through the school year. Nearly 1,300 children are shot and killed each year. They'll never write sappy messages in their friends' yearbooks, prepare for summer sports or family trips, or walk to the sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance” and collect their diploma.
Of the children killed in gun violence, over half of them are nonwhite. Black students specifically are 10 times as likely as white students to be a victim of gun homicide.
Looking at it another way: 2 out of every 10 of our students will be dead before next summer.
We needed 142 buses to bring these students to school at the start of the school year. But we'll only need 113 to bring the survivors back home this June.
Those 1,300 child victims of gun violence will leave 29 empty school buses in their wake.
Icons by Adrian Coquet, Peter van Driel, Yo! Baba, Anna Bearne, Kick, Aleksandr Vector and Matt Caisley, the Noun Project
Correction: An earlier version of this story included a statistic that overstated the percentage of kids who've witnessed a shooting. That statistic, from a previously published paper in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, included kids who were "in any place in real life where [they] could see or hear people being shot, bombs going off, or street riots?" The Post regrets the error.