A recent study found that more than one in four (1 in 4) United States citizens are being exposed to weapon violence before their eighteenth (18th) birthday. This means that more than a quarter of kids become either victims of guns violence or witnesses to a tragedy before they reach the legal age of adulthood.
The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, inform that, on average, one in thirty-three (1 in 33) kids are typically assaulted head on with either a gun or a knife during an incident. The number adds up to more than 17.5 million kids.
Kimberly Mitchell, lead author and scientist at the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, gave a statement informing that “Millions of children are being exposed to violence involving weapons, and many of them are victimized by guns and knives, with an elevated risk of trauma and serious injury”.
For their study, Mitchell and colleagues looked ad data collected from 4.114 children thanks to a national telephone survey. The subjects were all between the ages of two and seventeen (2 and 17). About half of them were at least 10 years old and could answer questions without the assistance of an adult.
It was a very comprehensive project. Statistically speaking, a little more than half of the subjects were boys, 57 percent (57%) of them were white, 15 percent (15%) were black, and 19 percent (19%) were Latino. Most of the subjects lived with two (2) adults, be they biological parents, stepparents or adoptive parents. Only approximately 36 percent (36%) of them lived with a single parent. All income levels had representatives, however 62 percent (62%) of subjects came from the middle-class.
The study revealed that most of the violence kids were exposed to involved sticks, rocks and bottles, however 3 percent (3%) of them did report being exposed to guns and / or knives.
The researchers found that the most likely subjects to be exposed to weapon violence were male, minorities, from low-income families, living with just one parent.
Researchers who did not participate in the study find it very honest and informative. Dr. Denise Dowd, a specialist in pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City gave a statement saying that the study represents typical American kids, considers a range of incomes, and shows that exposure to violence is not only wide spread, but also common.
She went on to add that when kids are repeatedly exposed to weapons, regardless of whether it is domestic violence, violence at school or gangs, they ar at risk developing toxic stress. Due to the traumatic events experienced, the brain goes through changes that have the potential of leading to various health issues such as immune system problems, heart disease, and worse of all mental illnesses.
The researchers say that the situation is so dire that the number of kids living in the United States who are either being assaulted with a weapon, or witnessing an assault, is far greater than the number of US kids who suffer from diseases such as diabetes or cancer.
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