... what are the most effective things we can do? There's so much talk about gun control in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, but rather than fixating on the particular device that has fixated our attention, perhaps we should reflect on what actually causes the most fatality in children, particularly since we have so much power to act affirmatively to prevent these deaths.
Here is a chart (PDF) from the National Center for Health Statistics, showing the "10 Leading Causes of Death by Age Group, United States – 2010." Young children's lives are clearly most threatened by accidents.
Here's a chart (PDF) showing "10 Leading Causes of Injury Deaths by Age Group Highlighting Unintentional Injury Deaths, United States – 2010." You can see that the greatest threat, by far, is the motor vehicle accident. Second, for 5- to 9-year-olds, is drowning. Third is fire. Homicide by firearm is fourth for this age group.
Go ahead and talk about the problem of murder, but let's remember that one thing we've learned from the Newtown massacre is how much we love and want to protect children. Children are continually dying from crashing cars, drowning, burning, suffocating, and poisoning. There are so many things we could do to be more careful and protective every day. Some of these things are fabulously banal, like keeping your eyes on the road and not walking away from the bathtub. There are no political enemies here to demonize, no legislation to stuff down your stubborn opponent's throat.
We're fixated by violence, and we love remedies for violence that have a frisson of (metaphorical) violence. But if we really care about the death of young children, we could take care.