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June 1988

Gunshot Wounds in Children Under 10 Years of Age: A New Epidemic

Am J Dis Child. 1988;142(6):618-622. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150060052028

• Before 1980 we had not treated any children with gunshot wounds who were younger than 10 years of age, but the number has increased dramatically each year since then. Thirty-four children younger than 10 years of age were treated for gunshot wounds from 1980 to 1987. Sociologic and epidemiologic data were assessed by a child-abuse team and police. Other studies have concluded that gunshot wounds in young children were usually caused by unintentional injury, child abuse, or neglect.1-7 From our present study we add a further, and very disturbing, category, that of attempted or intentional pediatric homicide. The children in this category were shot in retaliation for gang activities of their older siblings. This study demonstrates that the majority of our patients' childhood gunshot wounds were related to gang violence and retaliation, the availability of handguns in the home, and child neglect. The prevalence of childhood gunshot wounds in the inner city is increasing dramatically.

(AJDC 1988;142:618-622)