20 Dec Child Homicides, Rising for Years, Rise Sharply in 2020
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rebecca F. Wilson, PhD
Division of Violence Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Our report shows the homicide rate among children aged 0 to 17 years has been increasing annually on average 4.3% since 2013, and rose sharply from 2019 to 2020. The largest 2019 to 2020 rate increases were among children 11-17 years old, boys, and Black children. Overall increases varied by geography and demographics, with some racial and ethnic disparities persisting for more than 20 years. Firearms were the most common weapon used in child homicides. Homicides of younger children (infants to 10 years) were mostly perpetrated by parents and caregivers and precipitated by abuse and/or neglect.
Homicides of older children (11-17 years) were mostly perpetrated by someone known to them, like a friend or acquaintance, and precipitated by crime, arguments, and community violence.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The child homicide rate has steadily increased for several years and rose sharply in 2020. Long-term trends in child homicide rates varied by geography and demographics, with some racial and ethnic disparities persisting for more than 20 years.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?
Response: While a broad range of evidence-based programs, practices, and policies have been developed to prevent harm to younger children and teens, more targeted strategies are needed to: protect 6–10-year-olds, 11–17-year-olds, and children in certain geographic areas; and urgently address firearm violence, racism, and inequities at the root of youth violence.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?
Response: The rate decrease for some groups is encouraging, yet more can be done to protect all children. There are troubling recent rate increases among several groups, warranting immediate attention. The recent and dramatic increase in homicide rates of 11–17 year-olds highlights the sense of urgency in addressing firearm violence, racism, and inequities at the root of youth violence.
We know child homicides are preventable. CDC’s violence prevention resources for action include strategies with the best available evidence to prevent child abuse, youth violence, and other types of violence, and can help communities and states take action.
Authors have no disclosures to report.
Wilson RF, Fortson BL, Zhou H, et al. Trends in Homicide Rates for US Children Aged 0 to 17 Years, 1999 to 2020. JAMA Pediatr. Published online December 19, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2022.4940
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