Though childhood obesity remains the number one child health concern in the United States, school violence and gun-related injuries are also major issues in the country.
Childhood obesity has raised serious concerns across the United States and was the number one child health issue of 2014. However, a new study finds that other new problems like school violence and gun-related injuries have also entered the list of top 10 childhood health concerns in the country.
A new University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health was released recently, highlighting major issues faced by children. In the poll, adults were asked to identify the biggest health concerns for kids in their communities, as well as kids nationwide. A whopping 29 percent said that obesity was the biggest problem kids in their local communities face. About 55 percent said it is a 'big problem' across the country.
"Obesity remains a top child health problem overall, which has been a persistent concern in our annual top 10 polls along with others like bullying, smoking and drug abuse," said Matthew M. Davis, director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, in a press statement. "But this year's top 10 lists differ in key ways. School violence and gun-related injuries are on the list of big child health problems from a national perspective, but not a local community perspective."
Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children in the past 30 years, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. The report also highlighted that the percentage of obese children in the age group 6-11 rose from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012.
"Recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that rates of obesity in early childhood are decreasing in some states," said Davis. "But we know obesity among children remains substantially higher than it was in generations past. So this poll reminds us that much of the public recognizes the need to keep working hard on this problem."
Recent shootings and other instances of violence in schools have also raised serious concerns across the globe. A study in January this year found that at least one child is seriously injured every hour by gunshot and 6 percent succumb to their injuries.
The most common types of firearm injuries included open wounds (52 percent); fractures (50 percent); and internal injuries of the thorax, abdomen or pelvis (34 percent).
Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers reported earlier in October that more children and teens are becoming victims of gunshots. What's alarming is that a majority of the bullet sources are from household firearms particularly handguns.
"Handguns account for the majority of childhood gunshot wounds and this number appears to be increasing over the last decade," researchers of the study said. "Furthermore, states with higher percentages of household firearm ownership also tended to have higher proportions of childhood gunshot wounds, especially those occurring in the home."
Gun control laws are critical and law enforcement officials couldn't agree more. For example, the law that forbade the sale of military-style assault rifles expired in 2004. Moreover, the guns and ammunition used by the suspect in the Aurora shooting were all legally purchased under current law - including a military-style assault weapon and 6,000 rounds of ammunition.
The bone-chilling Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is another such example. A week after the incident, the New York Times revealed that the gun which Adam Lanza (the shooter) used was listed among "banned weapons" and Lanza himself didn't buy the gun.
In August last year, President Barack Obama used his executive powers to tighten gun control laws, banning the re-import of weapons sold abroad and changing a rule that allowed felons to evade background checks and buy machine guns.
Felons and abusers evaded the law by registering such weapons to trusts or corporations, which don't have to undergo a fingerprint-based background check. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said more than 39,000 requests had been filed last year for transfers of these restricted arms to trusts or corporations. The new regulation now requires people associated with trusts or corporations to face background checks, just as individuals do.
"Even as Congress fails to act on common-sense proposals, like expanding criminal background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, the president and vice president remain committed to using all the tools in their power," the White House said in a statement.
Obama also proposed a revised gun law that requires more stringent background checks of gun owners and new buyers to curb mass shootings. Earlier this month, the White House introduced two more new executive actions that will help strengthen the federal background check system and keep guns out of the wrong hands.
"The Department of Justice (DOJ) is proposing a regulation to clarify who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law for reasons related to mental health, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing a proposed regulation to address barriers preventing states from submitting limited information on those persons to the federal background check system," the statement read.
The current study was funded by the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and the University of Michigan Health System.