NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. Murder Rate For Children

March 29, 2000

As we know, American children are more likely to be killed by guns than children in other western industrialized countries. They are also more likely to be murdered by other means. But contrary to the impression sometimes given in the media, American children are much more likely to be killed by other means than by firearms.

According to a recent government study, "Kids and Guns," published by the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention:

  • In other Western countries, the homicide rate for children age 4 and under is just less than 1 per 100,000.
  • But it's quadruple that in the U.S., at 4.1 per 100,000.
  • And for every American child 4 or younger killed by a firearm, more than eight others die violently by other means -- blunt objects, strangulation, or most commonly hands, fists or feet.

Thus in 1997, of the 738 children under age 13 who were murdered in the U.S., 133 were killed by guns, according the FBI, and even without gun homicides, the child murder rate in the U.S. is more than 3.5 times as high as in other western countries.

However, in most of the U.S., child murders are very rare. In 1997, 85 percent of U.S. counties reported no juvenile homicides, and only 7 percent experienced two or more. Analysts say the problem is confined mainly to the big cities of the East and West coasts, and to the Southwest.

Source: Iain Murray (Statistical Assessment Service), "Juvenile murders: Guns least of it," Christian Science Monitor, March 27, 2000.


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