CDC: Homicide Rates At Least 10 Times Higher For Young Adult Blacks Than Whites Interview with:

Dr. Kameron Sheats PhD Licensed Psychologist; Behavioral Scientist Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Sheats

Dr. Kameron Sheats PhD
Licensed Psychologist; Behavioral Scientist
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention What is the background for this study?

Response: This study updates literature on racial disparities in violence between black and white youth using data capturing different severity levels in violent outcomes such as homicide versus assault. This study also seeks to increase the understanding of the impact of these disparities by examining associations between disparities in childhood adversity (e.g., child abuse and neglect, exposure to violence, household challenges) and adult health conditions. What are the main findings? 

  • Homicide rates have consistently been at least ten times higher for blacks ages18-34 years compared with whites in the same age group between 1995 and 2015.
  • Data from National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) 2015,National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) from 2010-2015 and the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) for 2015 show that disparities in violence between blacks and whites have persisted over the past two decades (1995-2015).
  • Young blacks, compared with young whites, continue to be at disproportionately higher risk for several forms of violence including homicide, physical fights with injuries, and aggravated assault.
  • Data from 10 states that included the Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) module in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)in 2011-2012 showed that blacks (mean 2.16, 95% CI CI=1.97, 2.35) reported significantly more exposure to ACEs compared with whites (mean 1.82, 95% CI=1.76, 1.88).
  • Exposure to ACEs (e.g., child abuse, household challenges) was significantly associated with increased odds of reporting coronary heart disease for blacks, but not for whites. What should readers take away from your report?

  •  Young blacks, compared with young whites, continue to be at disproportionately higher risk for the most physically harmful violence (e.g., homicides, fights with injuries, aggravated assaults) and are exposed to a higher number of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). This exposure puts them at increased odds for negative health outcomes such as coronary heart disease, fair or poor physical health, experiencing frequent mental distress, heavy drinking and smoking.
  • Minority populations are disproportionately exposed to conditions such as concentrated poverty, racism, limited educational and occupational opportunities and other aspects of social and economic disadvantage, which contributes to violence.
  • For young blacks, disparities in violence exposure can mean immediate and long-term decreased health-related quality of life. For society, these disparities may translate into higher healthcare costs, loss of vibrant and productive communities, and social inequity. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

    • Further studies observing cohorts of participants over time should help clarify associations between experiences of violence and physical and mental health outcomes.
    • More research is needed to examine violence-related disparities in the use of force among police and child and elder abuse. Police use of force has been a frequent topic in the media, and child and elder abuse are both types of violence that are experienced across the lifespan and may result in negative health outcomes.
    • Examining the variation in violence disparities within subgroups of those identifying as black and whether differences in income, education, neighborhood or in ethnicity (e.g. people of  Caribbean or African descent) might influence experiences of violence is another important topic for future research. Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: It is important to emphasize that race/ethnicity is not a risk factor for violence, rather violence is associated with socioeconomic risk factors that are disproportionately clustered among some racial and ethnic groups. Some of these societal conditions that are disproportionately experienced by blacks include concentrated poverty, residential segregation, and other forms of racism that limit opportunities to grow up in healthy, violence-free environments. 


Am J Prev Med. 2018 Aug 20. pii: S0749-3797(18)31907-X. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2018.05.017. [Epub ahead of print]

Violence-Related Disparities Experienced by Black Youth and Young Adults: Opportunities for Prevention.

Sheats K1, Irving SM2, Mercy J2, Simon TR2, Crosby A2, Ford DC2, Merrick M2, Annor F2, Morgan RE3.


The information on is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.