Previously we announced an essay competition for students on the topic "A Future without Gun Violence."  The announcement appears below. 

In response to that announcement, Psychological Reports is publishing a special issue on guns and gun violence; and our winning undergraduate and graduate essays also will be published in that issue.  The call for papers is open to faculty and students.  Students may submit to the EPA essay competition as well as to Psychological Reports in response to the call.  The call for papers can be found at the following link:

Psychological Reports call for papers

A Future without Gun Violence:  An essay competition for EPA student members*

EPA hereby announces an essay competition for student members to address the question:  What does the science of psychology have to contribute to an understanding of violence directed at the young?  Submissions in the areas of social, clinical, neuroscience, developmental psychology would be especially encouraged, though no area would be excluded (e.g., history).  The essay must be in the form of either: 1] a literature review of current research that concludes with suggestions for action; or 2] a proposal for a research project that can be completed (i.e., data collected and analyzed) within one year.  

Winners of the contest will be invited to present their essay at the annual meeting, posted on the EPA website, honored at an awards ceremony and given a travel award to attend the meeting.

The Context for this Competition

In an alarming essay in the NY Times (It’s Not Deaths of Despair. It’s the Death of Children, April 6, 2023), David Wallace-Wells writes “Americans are now dying younger on average than they used to, breaking from all global and historical patterns of predictable improvement. They are dying younger than in any peer countries, even accounting for the larger impact of the pandemic here. They are dying younger than in China, Cuba, the Czech Republic or Lebanon.”

Wallace-Wells continues:  “ . . . increasingly the American mortality anomaly, which is still growing, is explained not by the middle-aged or elderly but by the deaths of children and teenagers. One in 25 American 5-year-olds now won’t live to see 40, a death rate about four times as high as in other wealthy nations.” 

In a recent analysis published in JAMA Network Open, firearms - homicide and suicide – account for almost half of the increase in death rates among those 19 years or younger. Car crashes and accidental drug overdoses also contribute to the mortality seen in the young. (doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.53590)

The tragedies in Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde and Nashville and many others remind us that children disproportionately are bearing the cost of our country’s inability to address gun violence.  

According to a study by Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine (,  in 2017, there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty and about 1,000 active duty military throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-age children were killed by firearms.  Moreover, the 2017 study found that children are being gunned down in staggering numbers, with the death rate six to nine times higher than other developed nations.  The gun deaths included 6,464 children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old (an average of 340 deaths per year), and 32,478 deaths in children between 15 and 18years old (an average of 2,050 deaths per year), according to the study.  Of the deaths, 86% involved boys, the study found.  Black children accounted for 41% of those killed, though in recent years they’ve comprised just 14% of the US population.

The violent, premature death of young people is tragic and, in the richest country in the world, it is a travesty.  

The Competition:  Rules and deadlines

  1.  Essays (literature reviews or research proposals) must follow APA style and must be no longer than 15 double-spaced pages (i.e., ~3750 words) not including the bibliography.  
  2. All writing must be the original work of the authors.  Unacknowledged use of web sources including any form of artificial intelligence (e.g.,Chat GPT) is prohibited
  3. Collaborative work with multiple authors is encouraged.
  4. Separate awards will be made for undergraduate students and graduate students
  5. The deadline for submission is August 31, 2023.
  6. Submissions will be evaluated for clarity of expression, originality, and feasibility.

*You do not have to be a student member of EPA to enter the competition.  However, if you are a finalist, then you must join EPA to accept an award.

Your submission (PDF or Word file) must include a cover sheet as follows:

  1. Title of your essay or research proposal
  2. Abstract of 50-75 words
  3. Name, current status (undergraduate or graduate student) and affiliation of all authors
  4. Contact information: Email, mailing address and phone
  5. Curricular major/minor
  6. EPA member? Y/N
  7. Other professional memberships/affiliations


Resources for writing literature reviews and research proposals can be found below: 

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