To describe the epidemiology of severe assault and gun injuries to children in an urban population and consider the impact of a comprehensive injury prevention program.
Materials and Methods
Pediatric injury deaths and hospital admissions for Northern Manhattan (1983-1992) were linked to census counts to compute incidence. Poisson regression was used to compare trends in incidence of assault and gun injuries before and during a community-wide pediatric injury prevention program in Central Harlem.
The incidence of severe nonfatal assault injury was 60.94/100,000/year, 10 times the fatality rate. The incidence of all gun injuries was 31.13. In adolescence, guns were the leading cause of both fatal and severe nonfatal assault injury, and were the most lethal method of assault (case-fatality = 18.5% for gun vs. 1.2% for all non-gun assault injury). Rates of assault and gun injuries declined by nearly 50% in the intervention community, while they increased in a neighboring community.
Comprehensive interventions may be effective in curbing the incidence of severe assault injuries to urban youth. Further controlled evaluations are needed to confirm the effectiveness of programs such as this and to better understand the prevention of violent injuries.