In United States, a number of teenagers are unintentionally shot and killed every year. According to Violence Policy Centre (2004), 102 children aged below 10 and teenagers aged under 17 years were shot and killed unintentionally by firearms last in 2003 alone, this was more than an increase of 50 percent since, at least eight are killed every month, or a child in every four days. An additional 805 teenagers died in firearm homicides and 377 died in firearm suicides. More than four times the number of teens receives treatment in United States emergency rooms every year for gunshot wounds that are non-fatal. Altogether, these figures sum up a Columbine massacre after every 4 days for the youths in America.
Firearms are second main cause of youth’s deaths following deaths from motor vehicles. Considering “President’s Trigger Lock deal with Gun Industry Protects industry-Not Children” (1997) article, it analyzed deaths caused by firearms for teens aged 14 years in 26 developed nations and found that, 86% of deaths were in the United States as compared to other nations, firearms homicides rate was 16 times as much for American teenagers, firearms suicide rate was 16 times as much and firearms unintentional death rate was 9 times as much.
Youth’s accessibility to firearms is much worrying to many despite the fact that gun ownership is shrinking and decreasing in the market. Most firearms and gun lobby industries targets American youth as young as five years with their goal being continued sales and foot soldiers for battles ahead. As from “New Violence Policy Centre (VPC)” (2004) study, it warns us that there will be no customers left the coming five years, moreover, it argues that anti-gunners are not the greatest threat to business, but the future will lack firearms owners and users because of lack of interest. In regards to Gun World (1998) argument, lack of a future customer for products to be sold is the greatest threat that we are now facing.
Youth suicide victims who use firearms according to Joe Camel (1998) are 6 times more likely from drinking than those that instilled other means. Nonetheless, 91 percent of firearm victims and offenders use drugs or alcohol before killing a family member, relative or friend. This paper is going to examine the children and violence by scrutinizing the measures that will help minimize the youth and firearms.
Measures used to Prevent Child Firearm Death
The State Committee analyzed data from local team reviews and implemented interventions to minimize children deaths that are related to firearm in United States. The committee further recognized that teenage suicide and violence are issues the nation is concerned about, basing on the data evaluated, measures that were implemented to prevent deaths caused by firearms to children are:
Elimination of easy access to ammunition and guns to children of all ages (zero to seventeen): Most child access guns from their home or homes of their relatives and friends and use them to hurt one another or themselves through firearms suicide. When a crisis occurs, easy access to ammunition can be fatal to a child because it is a risk that can lead to suicide. Guns should not be available if parents are not there to provide close supervision. Training on gun safety does not touch all safety issues for child. Ones knowledge about proper gun usage does not offer protection to teenagers and child from psychological and emotional issues that are associated with homicidal or suicidal behaviour.
Younger generation is at great risk because they are curious and need to explore, this can lead to outcomes that are dangerous and fatal. Teens enjoy playing with guns than their guardians who are aware that programs that persuade youngsters to avoid using ammunitions have not been effective. To save a child’s life, one needs to control his environment. With Greenberg (2003) study, removal of guns from a Childs reach is the best way to protect a child from gun violence. There will always be danger if guns are at home. The following should be endorsed: trigger locks should be used for shotguns and rifles; handguns should be stored in lockbox with push button lock; guns should be kept away and locked from teens and children; family and friends should implement the same storage practices; and one should know that children being taught not to touch guns are not enough.
Barriers should be explored to enforce laws about illegal possession of firearms: Most children are exposed to family conflicts and violence and usually die by firearms as they are killed by unlawfully possessed guns. Family and domestic conflicts are closely linked and can lead to child neglect and abuse; these neglected children should not be permitted to possess guns. Firearms removal from homes that possessed them illegally may reduce child deaths. Law enforcement rarely seizes illegally owned ammunitions unless they are involved in an instant criminal act. Obstacles facing law enforcement in accomplishing preventive tasks are: limited storage space, training difficulties about implications of state and federal law, and issues that are legally related to personal property removal from a home. The state supports efforts of law enforcement to look at and reconsider barriers to securing illegally owned firearms owned by persons.
Identifying and supporting families and children at risk of firearm violence:
Most child from families with child abuse and domestic violence need additional support. Most of teenagers and children undergo emotional stress in addition to events that take place during the school day before suicide. Homes that possess guns make children at risk from the potential occurrence of an escalated family violence. The following should be legitimate while identifying and supporting families and child at a risk of firearm violence: promote broad distribution of information about risk factors related to a child and family violence; educate teens about managing life stresses and developing healthy options; providing effective support services wherever children are; and implementation and usage of programs that support teens and children after school so as to increase their accessibility to activities that are rewarding and supportive adults.
Expanding further our understanding of how to prevent child firearms deaths: The State Committee, in their efforts, permits local teams to allow local participants involvement, collect information pertaining child firearm deaths, and implement local strategies that prevents juvenile violence, family violence and child suicide. From the analysed and evaluated data, Committee sees that it is of value to enhance society and state-wide prevention planning-efforts that are not available.
Recommendations to be endorsed in understanding prevention of child firearm deaths are: One should involve agencies that are specialized in family and mental health on local teams; and one should collect more data that is complete concerning child firearm deaths. Information regarding domestic violence and mental health backgrounds of the affected families and their children is not known, therefore State committee suggests invitation of representatives from Mental-health-Regional-Support Network and a domestic violence advocate to join them. This helps to enhance potential data and discussions of preventive strategies that are local which will be enriched significantly through addition of these perspectives. Collected data should have information on legal status of the ammunition involved in the criminal act and domestic violence issues as part of review process.
How to prevent Firearm Related Deaths
Caregivers and parents: They should: make sure that child and teenagers are controlled by engaging in after school activities, understand risk factors associated to violence (both juvenile, teen dating and family) and suicide, and inquire the presence of ammunitions in other places where child play, that is, ammunitions and guns should be locked away from children.
Social Service Providers, Educators and Health Providers: Families should be counselled about safe storage of firearms by understanding risk factors related to violence and suicide; families and child at risk of firearm related violence should be identified and referrals should be made to these homes; teens should be educated on risk factors and support services should be easily accessed by all children and homes in a setting that is convenient.
Law Enforcement: This is done through referrals to affected homes, minimizing barriers to remove illegally possessed firearms, and understanding risk factors that are related to teen dating violence, juvenile violence, family violence and suicide.
Legislators/Policymakers: The effect of Child-Access-Protection laws should be followed in other states while considering similar legislation enactment in Washington.
Due to concerns from professionals and parents regarding increased deaths of adolescents and children killed by firearms, we should remember the following so as to minimize the deaths: Our teens and child cannot be gun-proofed and the best way to get a child protected against firearm violence is ensuring the removal of all ammunitions from homes. In circumstances where one parent doesn’t possess a gun, he/she should check other homes where their children play, especially in cases where the children are not supervised.
Alcohol usage and easy access of a gun to youngsters can rapidly increase the risk of violence. Children imitate what they see through computer games, on TVs and in movies. Extensive viewing of violence acts on arcade games make the child more aggressive. Parents ought to assist their children from gun violence effects that are seen in the media by disapproving those episodes that are violent in front of their children, stressing that, that behaviour is not allowed in the society as it cannot solve a problem.
Teens and children who have behavioural or emotional problems are prone to use guns and ammunitions against others or themselves. Concerned parents who knows that their children have emotional disorder or are too aggressive should seek a child’s or an adolescent’s evaluation from a mental health profession or a psychiatrist. State and local participants should develop a program that is effective to collect, evaluate and analyze valuable information that will assist prevent unexpected youngsters deaths and More so, the program should use a systematic process for review of unexpected child deaths.
Gould M and Greenberg T (2003): Youth Suicidal Risks and Preventive Intervention- A review of the last 12 American Academy of an adolescent and a child Psychiatry
Gun World (1998),”School Shooting Focus on New Attention on teen Gun Culture.
Joe Camel (1998): How NRA, with Guns and Tobacco Industry Dollar Use its Program to sell Guns to Child.
Violence Policy Centre (2004): Gun Safety Programs with Joe Camel Feathers accessed-Press Release accessed on 29/11/11 at http://www.vpc.org/pressndx.htm
President’s In Trigger And Lock Deal With Gun Industry (1997): “Industry Protection Industry -Not Children”