Last year was the deadliest year for gun violence in the U.S. in at least two decades, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and children have been caught in the middle, reports USA Today. In 2020, more than 5,100 kids under 18 were shot — about 1,000 more than at any point since at least 2014, when the archive launched — and more than 1,300 died.
The numbers of kids shot and killed both increased by more than a third from the previous year. The youngest kids saw the greatest rise in fatalities. Nearly 300 children ages 11 and younger were killed in 2020, about a 50 percent increase from the year before. As of early September, firearm fatalities were up 13 percent, and more children and teens had been shot than at the same time last year. Public health professionals, violence interrupters and researchers say the rise is due to a confluence of factors exacerbated by the pandemic, resulting in higher rates of unintentional shootings, suicides and homicides with children caught in the crossfire.