The sisters in Ohio, both in elementary school, were shot dead by their father. A boy in Texas was shot at home by someone from a passing car. A ninth grade student in Arkansas was shot by a friend at school. The girl in Kansas was shot by a toddler who did not intend to do so. A teenager in South Carolina shot himself, but he meant it.
They were all killed in an epidemic unique to the United States, where on average at least one child is shot every day. Many will survive, but many others will not. Nine children were killed in firearms in the country’s capital last year. In Los Angeles, 11 were fatally shot. In Philadelphia: 36. In Chicago: 59. These figures do not include hundreds of other children who died in accidental shooting and suicide.
How many of them were captured by gun violence last year will remain unknown until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes their data in a few months. But in 2020, that number exceeded 2,200 – by far the highest in two decades – and the result is expected to be worse in 2021.
The children listed below are basically representative of those who are killed each year in America. Even children are shot, but the vast majority of young victims are teenagers. According to the CDC, black children are more than four times more likely to die in shooting than whites, although white children are much more likely to use weapons to take their own lives.
Bullet-killed children are often reminded only by brief reports or torturous obituaries. But the way they lived is as important as the way they died.
The 13 children who are profiled here were fun: a 6-year-old girl who wanted to be a doctor so she could give wounds to all the doctors who gave her doses. They were generous: a 12-year-old boy who used his money for housework to take his family to McDonald’s. And they were ambitious: a 15-year-old who wanted to be a nuclear physicist.
These are their stories, one for each month of the year full of violence.