On the fateful Friday of March 25, 2022, the two cousins Kuaron and Paris Harvey went on livestream from a birthday party, brandishing a loaded gun to look ‘cool’ like many in the American society. Except … they were both early teenagers aged 14 and 12 respectively, belonging to a Missouri-based African-American family. While posing with the firearm, Paris accidentally discharged the weapon on to her older cousin, and in a state of confusion, eventually ended up killing herself within seconds before help could arrive. Both were pronounced dead on scene.

Statistically speaking, this kind of tragic ‘accidents’ are far too common to even come as a shock to most Americans in 2022. The sheer scale of the gun violence epidemic in this country has drawn massive media attention, but one more inconvenient fact that you might not know is that pre-teens and adolescents, especially children of color, are disproportionately more likely to suffer from gun violence than adults.

The problem is, as one report by the thinktank Everytown Research put it, a ‘uniquely American’ one. Their data indicates that children and young adults at ages 5-24 are over twenty times more likely to have their lives cut short by a gunshot in America than other high-income nations. Even a brief survey of the number of guns and gun-related deaths across the states shows an undeniable correlation between the presence and fatal usage of small firearms.

For instance, more than 4,300 American children succumbed to gun injuries in 2020, a sharp 29% rise from a year prior. For the first time in forty years, gun deaths surpassed transportation accidents as the leading cause of mortality among people younger than 20. Needless to say, gun ownership also skyrocketed at the same time during the pandemic compared to 2019 rates, with as many as five million children being newly exposed to firearms at home that year.

A breakdown of these cases once again confirms the role that guns play. Out of the annual deaths from gunfire among kids, roughly 60% are attributable to homicide; specifically, domestic violence spiraling out of control and ending up with a dead child in moments of fury. Another 35% are caused by suicide, and it is this stratum of victims that has seen the steepest rise in recent years. Specifically, research shows that mere exposure and access to a gun at home makes suicide at least four times more likely among the general population, and the risk is likely to be significantly higher among young adults.

Most Americans still remain oblivious to the extent of crisis that their own children now face due to their obsession with firearms. Only 35% of parents in an online survey self-reported keeping all their guns at home both unloaded and locked. And thanks to the constant tactic of scapegoating children for political purposes by modern conservatives, liberal and progressive media outlets are far too reluctant to promote awareness on this aspect of our gun culture.

The damage is not limited to only those who tragically lose their future due to the empathy of adult society. At least four times as many kids, roughly forty every single day, get short- or long-term injuries from gunfire as well. Furthermore, it has been estimated that around three million children witness a shooting in their community each year in the United States. Anxiety among pre-adults has already been on the rise for at least seven decades, to the point that the USPSTF now recommends universal screening of all children 8-18 for mental health struggles. Living under the constant threat of gun violence and murder certainly does not help their innocent minds cope with the hellish reality that many of America’s kids involuntarily find themselves in.

Image: Unsplash/Mazzarrzz

Anthony Tilghman

Anthony Tilghman, is an 3x Award-winning Photojournalist, Education advocate, Mentor, and Published Author with years of experience in media, photography, marketing and branding. He is the Winner of the...

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