Children in the US are 57% more likely to die by the time they are 19 than children in other developed nations. When it comes to keeping children safe, the US is falling behind and putting the future of American children in jeopardy.
Causes of Childhood Mortality in the U.S.
61% of U.S. children who die before age 19 perish because of a physical injury. In 2016, more than 20,000 childhood fatalities were recorded in the United States. Motor vehicle accidents and firearms caused the largest portion of these deaths. About 20% of fatalities were attributed to vehicle crashes which caused 5.21 deaths per 100,000 children and adolescents that year. This was roughly the same as the number of children who died from motor vehicle accidents in Mongolia. It was more than 3 times the number of children who died in Austria and Hungary, and 5 times the number of crash fatalities recorded in England and Wales.
The U.S. had a firearm fatality rate of 4 deaths per 100,000 children and adolescents in 2016, accounting for about 15% of childhood deaths. By comparison, Sweden had a rate of .29, Austria was at .18, Hungary was at .05, and England and Wales recorded rates at .04 per 100,000 children and adolescents. These vast differences highlight the risk of violent death that American children face on a regular basis.
Keeping Kids Safe
The majority of childhood deaths are preventable. Parents can help protect their kids from crash deaths and firearm fatalities by addressing the risks before an accident happens.
To prevent crash deaths, this means making sure children always wear their seat belts, ensuring that teen drivers are properly educated in the safe use of an automobile, and emphasizing the risks of drunk, drugged, and distracted driving.
Parents should also discuss firearm safety with their children. If there are guns in the home, these weapons should be properly secured and stored out of reach of the child. Children should be taught what to do if they come across a firearm or find themselves in a dangerous situation at school, in the mall, at the park, etc.