Kids Caught in Gun Violence Crossfire

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A growing number of children and teens are being caught in the crossfire of gun violence, leading to a record surge in shooting victims, reports  At Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee, there’s been a shooting patient almost every day this summer, according to Dr. David Gourlay, the hospital’s trauma medical director. Gunshot cases spiked 65 percent in 2020 at Children’s of Alabama, while motor-vehicle-related injuries—the hospital’s most common trauma—dropped 13 percent, according to Dr. Rob Russell, its trauma director.  It’s a staggering indicator that shootings have become as regular among children as other common ailments, says Dr. Lindsay Clukies, an associate trauma medical director St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “When you go into pediatrics,” she says, “you don’t expect to see any child shot ever.”

Gunshot injuries at pediatric trauma centers spiked 50 percent across Houston and 300 percent in Hartford, Conn. In Fort Worth, more than 41 children have been treated for gunshot wounds at the Cook Children’s emergency department so far this year, compared with 47 in all of 2020 and 41 the entire year before. For children who survive shootings, the wounds are more than just physical. Childhood trauma can have lifelong effects on mental health. Survivors often struggle with post-traumatic stress, anxiety or mood disorders, which can impact how they perform at school or build relationships for decades to come. “It’s really sad for me when I see a three-year-old, and I think, ‘God, what is the rest of this kid’s life going to be like?” says Dr. Regan Williams, the trauma medical director at Le Bonheur Hospital in Memphis.

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