Pediatric Firearm-Related Injuries: Taking Kids Out of Harm’s Way Begins with Targeted Prevention

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Pediatric Firearm-Related Injuries: Taking Kids Out of Harm’s Way Begins with Targeted Prevention

Category: Injury, Suicide, Unintentional, Youth|Journal: Journal of Surgical Research|Author: A Dennis, F Bokhari, J Mis, J Sanchez, L Tatebe, N Koo, S Pekarek, V Schlanser|Year: 2021

Background

Firearm-related injury is a public health crisis and remains the 3rd most common cause of death from ages 1 15 years. By evaluating events surrounding such injuries, evidence-based intervention strategies efforts may be targeted to maximize impact.

 

Material and methods

A retrospective chart review was performed for firearm-related injuries in patients 15 years-old and under at an urban Pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center between January 2016 and December 2020. Age, gender, race/ethnicity, injury severity score (ISS), reported cause of injury, timing of injury around school and curfew, and mortality were evaluated. Medical Examiner data identified other deaths that occurred within the hospital’s catchment area.

 

Results

There were 195 injuries including 14 from the Medical Examiner. Overall, 82.6% were male with median age of 14 years (range 1-15; IQR 13-15), and median ISS of 5 (IQR 1-10). African-American children comprised 74.9% of the cohort while only representing 35.9% of local schools. Intentional interpersonal injuries comprised 65.6%; 17.4% were bystanders; 7.2% were negligent discharges; and 0.5% suicide. Median age for intentional interpersonal injuries was 14 years (IQR 13-15) compared to 11 years (IQR 8-14, P = 0.03) for negligent discharges. Regarding timing, 6.9% of injuries occurred during school hours; 56.4% after school or during non-school days; and 36.7% were after legal curfew. Mortality rate was 17.4%.

 

Conclusions

Firearm safety education and community-based violence intervention should start in the pre-teen years. Pediatric firearm-related injury prevention strategies must be multifaceted addressing structural racism, truancy, curfew violation, extra-curricular activities, childcare options, firearm safety education, violence reduction, suicide prevention, and recidivism.

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