Mass shootings: Are children safer in the streets than in the home?

Category: Domestic Violence, Homicide, Injury, Mass Shootings, Youth|Journal: Journal of Pediatric Surgery (full text)|Author: D Dent, K Safcsak, M Cheatham, M Levy|Posted On: April 01,2019

Purpose

Though the total fatality and injury count in mass shootings is known, the burden on the pediatric population remains undefined. We sought to define the impact of domestic vs. public mass shootings in the pediatric population.

Methods

Open-source databases, Everytown for Gun Violence, and Mother Jones were cross-referenced and used to review domestic and public mass shootings from 2009 to 2016. Mass shootings were defined as four or more fatalities and any injuries. Domestic mass shootings were defined as ones that occurred in the home where the assailant was either a family member or a past or present intimate partner of a family member. Public mass shootings occurred in a public space where the shooter was unknown to the victim. The number of incidents in each group, fatalities and injuries, and effect on children < 18 years were analyzed along with perpetrator characteristics. Categorical data were analyzed using Fisher’s Exact test.

Results

There were 71 Domestic and 31 Public mass shootings accounting for 331 vs. 281 fatalities and 28 vs. 217 injuries (p < 0.0001). Children < 18 years accounted for 44% of Domestic and 10% of Public fatalities (p < 0.0001) and 46% vs. 2% of all injuries (p < 0.0001). The assailant was prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm in 32% of Domestic and 39% of Public mass shootings accounting for 54 vs. 25 fatalities.

Conclusion

The pediatric fatality rate in mass shootings is alarming, especially among Domestic shooting events. This is a public health issue and requires vigilance to protect at-risk youth.

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