(AP)- - Chicago: A series of recent horrific school shootings in the US have caused many to wonder just how safe America's children are.
The truth is, young Americans die at the hands of other people at an alarming rate, greater than any other Western nation.
Every day in 2003, an average of about 15 youth, ages 10 to 24, were victims of intentional and accidental killings in the US, according to the most recent statistics available from the federal Centres for Disease Control. Very few of them died in school shootings. They are most likely to be shot, but also the victims of stabbings, beatings and other abuse.
They are young people such as Starkesia Reed, a high school student who was struck and killed in March by a bullet from an AK-47 as she stood by a window in her home in Chicago's impoverished Englewood neighbourhood. About a week later, in the same neighbourhood, 10-year-old Siretha White was killed much the same way as she attended a surprise birthday party at her aunt's home.
"She had dreams and she didn't get to finish doing her dreams," Siretha's mother, Siretha Woods, said at the time.
Or Alex Anthony. Last month, the 13-year-old - shot in the head by a stray bullet a block from his Indianapolis home - quietly slipped away after his family made the agonising decision to have him taken off life support.
"This is something we will never get over," said Hattie Hunter-Anthony, one of Alex's many aunts in his large, extended family.
There have been several high-profile school shootings in the US within a matter of days. On September 27, a gunman took several girls in a Colorado school hostage, sexually assaulted them and then killed a 16-year-old girl before killing himself.