Gun assault rates for kids doubled in Chicago, 3 other big cities during COVID pandemic, even worse for Black children, study finds

Black children have been 100 times as likely as white children to be victims of fatal and nonfatal shootings. Pre-pandemic, they were 27 times as likely.

SHARE Gun assault rates for kids doubled in Chicago, 3 other big cities during COVID pandemic, even worse for Black children, study finds
A small memorial last October outside the home where Akeem Briscoe, 7, was shot to death in the 2600 block of West Potomac Avenue in Humboldt Park. Rates of child shootings have risen during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among Black children, according a new study.

A small memorial last October outside the home where Akeem Briscoe, 7, was shot to death in the 2600 block of West Potomac Avenue in Humboldt Park. Rates of child shootings have risen during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among Black children, according a new study.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere / Sun-Times file

Rates of gun assaults on children roughly doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study that looked at gun deaths and injuries in Chicago and three other major cities.

Black children were the most frequent victims.

The analysis led by Boston University’s Jonathan Jay, who studies urban health, included a review of gun assaults between mid-March 2020 and December 2021 in Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York.

It found that Black children were 100 times as likely as white children to be victims of fatal and nonfatal shootings. Pre-pandemic, they were 27 times as likely. The researchers excluded accidental shootings and incidents of self-harm.

Jay said his team looked at the rates to understand whether some children are at higher risk than others.

“We knew that children of color, even before the pandemic, were more likely than non-Hispanic white children to be shot, and we also knew that child gun victimization seemed to be increasing during the pandemic,” Jay said. “But no one had looked at how racial disparities in child victimization might have been changing.”

The researchers are still unpacking pandemic-specific factors that might have driven the change, he said.

The influences they’re considering include “stress associated with job losses, school closings, loss of access to certain kinds of services that closed down,” he said. “Also, really visible police violence, especially against people of color. Loss of loved ones and family members to COVID-19 virus.”

In 2020, firearms became the leading cause of death for American children, surpassing car crashes for the first time in decades, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that 16.6 million U.S. adults purchased a gun in 2020, up from 13.8 million in 2019, according to its analysis of the National Firearms Survey.

“With COVID, we’ve seen an increase in gun purchases and more guns in the home,” said Dr. Joel Fein, a physician and co-director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Violence Prevention. “So [children] were in places where there were now more guns and probably more guns on the streets as well.”

In late March, the CDC released data showing there were, on average, 36% more emergency department visits every week for firearm injuries in 2021 than in 2019, with the largest increase among children 14 and younger.

This article is part of a partnership that includes WHYY, NPR and KFF Health News.

The Latest
New voice Rick Ball isn’t replacing Pat Foley. He’s replacing the guy whom fans didn’t widely accept. Ball gives the Hawks a do-over — though they should’ve had nothing to redo with Foley and Eddie Olczyk in the booth.
The Red Stars have not argued against the terms of their deal to play at SeatGeek Stadium. However, one team source believes the city will be unable to live up to its contractual obligations to allow the team to operate successfully on gameday.
The attacker infiltrated the hospital network after an employee accidentally downloaded a malicious file, according to Ascension.
After three tumultuous years as AD, Gragg’s primary responsibilities will lie in the expansive, ever-evolving realm of NIL, with a focus on fundraising.
Detectives Kevin Lynn and Patrick Munyon were recognized by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation for a bond they built with 18-year-old Tavon Tanner, who was 10 when he was shot and seriously wounded in 2016. “He just really blossomed into a fantastic young man,” Munyon said.