CHICAGO -- Hard numbers that are hard to understand. We’re talking about gun violence in the city of Chicago. Today, Lurie Children’s Hospital released a report highlighting some sobering – yet not surprising – statistics.
In 2015, 64 out of every 100,000 people ages 20-24 in the City of Chicago were victims of homicide. The majority were African-American men. That’s a 21 percent increase in the last 10 years.
“It’s incredible,” says Lurie Children’s Hospital emergency medicine physician Karen Sheehan. “There’s nothing else like it, and what’s really devastating to me as a pediatrician is that these people are often parents, these 20- to 24-year-olds. And so just think of what happens to the next generation? You never really fully recover if your parent dies in a violent incident.”
And guns are playing a critical role in the violence. Again, not a surprise finding, but in 2015 firearms were used in nearly 90 percent of the killings. Sheehan says a shift in focus may help spark solutions to the public health issue.
“I think we need to think differently than we have about violence,” Sheehan says. “I think we need to think at the neighborhood level and the community level. I think we all have a role we can play in violence prevention, tutoring, supporting non-profits that work in these neighborhoods, helping provide jobs for youth during the summer. Really what people need is connection to a stable human being who could fully give to you. That’s what a child needs.
And, Sheehan says, there’s a need for more funding.
“We are woefully, inadequately funded for violence research in general in this country and specifically firearm injury prevention research,” Sheehan says. “There is very little money even though it is a major killer for people in this city.”
There are so many community and City of Chicago programs coming together to help curb the violence. We can’t let the statistics discount the work being done, but the numbers do help put the problem in perspective and shed light on the need for ongoing discussion and action. To learn more, check out Healthy Chicago 2.0 at: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/provdrs/healthychicago.html