Motor vehicle accidents, drug overdoses, homicides, and suicides are killing children and teenagers in America at alarming rates.
Is America a Safe Place for Kids?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the death rate for children and teenagers in the United States has increased by 12 percent since 2013. Death certificates for children and teens between 10 and 19 years of age are 33 fatalities for every 100,000 children. CDC records show that children and teens in the U.S. are dying from a variety of injuries caused by traffic accidents, drug overdoses, murders, and suicides.
In 2013, traffic-related deaths for young people jumped by 13 percent. In 2016, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of fatalities among children and teens, resulting in 7.4 deaths per 100,000 young people in the U.S. Studies show that speed, alcohol and/or drugs, distracted driving, and unbuckled seat belts are causing many fatalities among young people. In fatal car accidents, 43 percent of kids aged 9 to 13 and 50 percent of teens aged 15 to 19 are not buckled up.
In 2015, the number of overdose deaths among adolescents and teenagers began rising. They accounted for 3.7 deaths per 100,000 young people or 772 overdose deaths in 2015. Since then, overdose death rates have continued to rise among age groups between 10 and 19. Most overdose deaths are caused by a rise in opioid use including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription painkillers.
The homicide rate among adolescents and teenagers is higher than any other age group in the United States. Between 2014 and 2016, homicide rates increased by 27 percent among young people aged 15 to 24. Gun violence accounted for 87 percent of all homicides within these age groups. Homicide death rates are five times higher for young males than young females, both perpetrators and victims.
Suicide rates among young people increased 56 percent between 2007 and 2016. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for adolescents and teens between the ages of 10 and 18. In the U.S., more young people die from suicide than from birth defects, influenza and pneumonia, chronic lung disease, cancer, stroke, heart disease, and AIDS combined. Although youth suicides occur for a variety of reasons, studies show that mental illness, depression, and substance abuse is often linked to suicide attempts and deaths in adolescents and teens.