A new study reported by the Washington Post found African-American children in Chicago scoring a lot lower on reading and vocabulary tests within a week of a homicide in their neighborhood — even if they did not directly witness the violence. Sociologist Patrick Sharkey of New York University analyzed 6,041 homicides between 1994 and 2002 in Chicago and testing data of about 1,100 African-American children ages 6 to 17. He looked at scores of tests taken before a homicide and then compared them with test scores from before the violence.
“The results indicate that the impact of violence is not limited to those victimized or those who directly witness an act of violence, but appears to be felt by children across a community who live in close proximity to extreme violent events,” the study says. “This finding has implications for efforts to mitigate the harmful consequences of exposure to violence.” Homicide remains among the leading causes of death among 15-24 year olds nationally and is the top cause of death among African Americans in this age range, the study says. The study says the same negative effort was not seen in data on Hispanic students.