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The Increasing Rate of Homicide among Kids in the US

A new study has confirmed that the homicide rate has been increasing by 4.3 percent annually for the past ten years. It is not surprising that it is the leading cause of death among kids in the US. The study published by JAMA Pediatrics revealed that Black boys were victims of homicide more than any other demographic.

The researchers stated that 38,362 United States kids died through homicide between 1999 and 2020. Firearms remain the typical weapon in children’s deaths in the country. There was an unbelievable 27.7 percent rise in the homicide rate between 2019 and 2020. This may be partly due to the rise in firearm-related murders of kids, which skyrocketed to 47.7 percent within the period under review.

Ultimately, murder rates surged the most for boys between 2018 and 2020, with an unprecedented 16.1 percent rate. However, there was a reduction in murder among females between 1999 and 2020.

Identifying Systemic Inequities

The homicide rate among Black children rose by 16.6 percent between 2018 and 2020. Since 2012 and 2014, Black and Hispanic kids, respectively, have been the biggest victims of the increase in murder.

Conversely, Alaskan and American Native children had a slight reduction in murder rates from 1999 to 2020, but it was statistically negligible. In most years, they had the second-highest homicide rates among racial and ethnic affiliations. There is a probability of underestimation of these numbers due to the misrecognition of some individuals as Hispanic. However, murder rates for Pacific Islander, Asian, and White children have consistently declined since 1999.

These racial disparities may be due to system-driven inequalities and racism. Many Black children live in neighborhoods with a high level of poverty, fewer safe playgrounds, and poorly-funded educational institutions. These neighborhoods are also governed by individuals who dehumanize Black children, both unconsciously and deliberately.

Remarkably, the homicide rate has surged in rural areas since 2011 because of the high rate of poverty and diminishing employment opportunities. The study also discovered an increasing rate of child homicide in the South since 2013.

Abuse or neglect by parents or caregivers mainly led to the death of children aged ten and below, while their counterparts aged 11 and above died during an argument, a crime, or by an acquaintance. Black boys between 16 and 17 had a homicide rate 18 times higher than White boys.

Escaping Poverty through Education

The past two decades have witnessed a steady decline in homicide rates for kids between one and five years. The federal government’s initiatives like the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program and other medical reforms contribute to this decline. “Well-geared youth development programs improve children’s well-being, education, and financial stability. Strategic and structural investments can end violent deaths,” says attorney Ryan O’Neill of The Law Offices of Mark Sherman.

A Forgotten Group

New research showed that murders among children between ages 6 and 10 have increased since 2014. The scholars observe that violence intervention programs for this age group only focus on peer violence like bullying and sexual abuse, neglecting parent-child crisis. They advocated for the inclusion of initiatives that enlighten children on intimate partner violence.

The research also suggested that the authorities should reduce children’s access to guns and other “lethal means.”

Why the Systems Are Not Working

Researchers believe that authorities have not done enough to end homicides at all levels. The country must introduce a multi-sector approach to tackle homicides among children effectively. Additionally, there should be policies to safeguard those who are at risk of dying from parental neglect or abuse.

The government should control children’s access to firearms. Researchers should also dig deeper to explain the relationship between poverty and social inequalities in communities. Suppose the authorities are assertive about grabbing the bull by the horns to address structural racism, insecurity, and poverty; in that case, the war against homicide will soon become a thing of the past.

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