Firearms play a major role in childhood morbidity and mortality in the United States, especially among adolescents. The American Academy of Pediatrics is committed to reducing firearm death and injury of children and youth and has published policy statements on handgun control (1985),1 "toy" firearms (1987),2 and "Firearm Injuries Affecting the Pediatric Population" (1992).3 The purpose of this statement is to identify major firearm issues that specifically address adolescents.
Reducing injuries and deaths from firearms is an essential priority for adolescent health. Of all firearm deaths among children from birth to age 19 years, 80% occur in older youths aged 10 to 19 years. Firearms are involved in 70% of teen homicide and 63% of teen suicide. Firearms are the second beading cause of death (after motor vehicle accidents) among all teenagers aged 15 to 19 years.4,5 Risk factors for firearm death seem particularly related to age, as rates of firearm violence peak in bate adolescence (ages 15 to 24 years) and decrease in young adulthood (ages 25 to 34 years).6 Therefore, special characteristics of adolescent development must be considered in designing effective countermeasures to prevent injury and death.
ADOLESCENT MORTALITY AND MORBIDITY
The statistics on firearm death and injury in adolescents emphasize the severity of the problem.
Firearms account for 20% of deaths among all older youth, with almost 3200 US youths aged 15 to 19 years fatally shot each year.4 In the last 20 years, the rate of firearm deaths among teenagers has increased 75%, from 10.1/100 000 to 17.7/100 000.4
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics