New York City is experiencing an increasing number of attacks on and by children this year, even as gun violence as a whole decreased. About one in every 10 New Yorkers struck by a bullet this year was a child. At least 16 died. There have been 149 shooting victims under 18 this year as of Dec. 18. That’s notably higher than the number in 2021, when 138 children were shot. In 2017, when gun violence hit historic lows, just 75 shooting victims were children, the New York Times reports. The number of people under 18 charged in shootings is also rising: 105 were reported through the end of September, compared with 102 in all of 2021.
The increase of youth violence "is incredibly tragic, scary,” said Michael-Sean Spence of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The increase has been the highest over the last five years amongst those under the age of 18.” Experts cite several reasons: the pandemic’s upheaval in school and home lives; the proliferation of guns; and the economic devastation of low-income communities over the past three years. Community leaders say scant resources for academic support, after-school programs and mental health services have left children aimless and caught in cycles of violence and retaliation. In 2020, firearm fatalities became the leading cause of death for U.S. young people between ages one and 19, surpassing motor vehicle crashes. The rate at which gun deaths rose for children and adolescents between 2019 and 2020 was more than twice as high as the increase among the general population. Black children have been disproportionately affected. Between 2018 and 2021, firearm deaths doubled among Black youth and rose by 50 percent among Hispanic youth, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.