Five-year-old Clareon Williams sat on the couch with his dad playing on his iPad when a spray of bullets ripped through the window of the first-floor apartment, one lodging in his skull.
The number of kids fatally shot and wounded has soared during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data suggests last year was the deadliest since at least 2014.
‘The most dangerous symptom’A person under 18 was shot in more than 1,000 U.S. cities and counties in 2020, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Gun Violence Archive data. More than half of thenation's50 most populous cities saw a double-digit percentage rise in the number of kids shot from 2019 to 2020.
Among the cities that have seen the worst violenceand the greatest riseare Chicago, St. Louis and Philadelphia, where, respectively, at least 50, 30 and 25 kids under 18 died by gun violence last year, according to the archive's data.As for the number of children injured: 250 in Chicago, 130 in Philadelphia and nearly 90 in St. Louis – dozens more than each city reported the year before, according to the archive's data.
"You already kind of had folks living on the edge, and this whole (pandemic), even for the average person, was a lot to endure. This is still a lot to endure," said Asiaha Butler, a Chicago peace activist and president of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, a grassroots community organization. headtopics.com
Butler was on her porch in July when she heard dozens of shots down the street, thinking it was fireworks. Seven people were injured, including a 1-month-oldgirl who was shot in the head."If there were conflicts before, those conflicts have been amplified. If there were guns before, access to those guns has been amplified," Butler said.
In St. Louis, the Rev. Darryl Gray, a community activist, said he's conducted "memorial service after memorial service" this year. He recently buried a 9-year-old boy who lived nearby. The gunmen were aiming at the father and shot the son, he said.
"It was our thought that, when COVID hit, that what it would do is keep families inside, that it would bring our numbers down," he said. "But we haven’t seen that at all."As hospitals in St. Louis filled with COVID-19 patients last year, all other complaints dropped across the board – except for gun injuries, said
Dr.Kristen Mueller, who works in emergency medicine at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Barnes Jewish Hospital.The Williams family never went back to their apartment in Chicago’s Southside Roseland neighborhood after their youngest son, Clareon Williams, was shot. headtopics.com
"That has been the dueling epidemic this entire year. And we’re certainly on pace in 2021 to exceed the gun violence deaths from 2020," Mueller said.In Philadelphia, Dr. Dorothy Novick said the number of people with gunshot wounds at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has "increased so dramatically since the pandemic began."
Stakeholders attributed the spike to an array of stressors exacerbated by the pandemic, such as financial insecurity and joblessness, illness, homelessness and disruptions in social services. Many pointed to rising rates of domestic violence and mental health crises and the closure of schools, child care centers and other safe spaces for youth.
Novick said she suspects the rise nationally is partly due to higher rates of teen suicides and unintentional shootings among children. But homicides have "really gone up the most dramatically," Novick said.Emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts among adolescents rose over the past year,
according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The St. Louis Story Stitchers artistic collective tries to mend the emotional wounds of gun violence through expression and art. Its projects include murals in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood. headtopics.com
Unintentional shooting deaths by children – largely when kids gain access to unsecured, loaded guns at home – were 31% higher from March through December 2020 than during the same period in 2019, according tofrom the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety.Read more: Yahoo News »
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It's people violence not gun violence,guns can't fire themselves.
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