It’s hard to imagine a worse distinction for a country to hold. A recent study in the journal Health Affairs concluded that the United States has become “the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into.”
Perhaps most damning, our country didn’t used to hold this status. In the 1960s, the death rate of American children was slightly lower than in other affluent nations. But three factors have changed that:
1. Other countries have had far more success reducing infant mortality. The reasons aren’t fully known, but the uneven American social safety net seems to play a role.
2. Other countries have more sharply reduced vehicle deaths, which are a particular scourge for teenagers. (The United States could easily do the same, as I explained in a recent column.)
3. The United States suffers from an epidemic of shooting deaths, which are nearly nonexistent elsewhere. The gun homicide rate in this country is 49 times higher than in other rich countries, according to the Health Affairs study.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the at least 17 people, mostly high-school students, murdered in South Florida yesterday. You’ve also probably heard a lot of substance-free condolences. Here’s the truth: The teenagers killed in Florida yesterday had the misfortune of growing up — of trying to grow up — in a country that didn’t care enough about their lives.
May we honor them with anger that does not cease until the unnecessary deaths of children do.
Related: Nick Kristof argues for a public-health approach to gun violence.
Survivors of mass shootings and relatives of gun victims call on Congress to act, in a Times video.
Source: The New York Times