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Gun injuries highest for young black men

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A study in the journal Pediatrics titled "Hospitalizations Due to Firearm Injuries in Children and Adolescents" was released on-line Jan. 27. The study's authors looked at hospitalization records of 7,391 patients from 2009 with some interesting results. Patients hospitalized for an injury due to a firearm were overwhelmingly male, 89 percent of all patients. Young black men were over ten times more likely than young white men to be hospitalized for such an injury.

The study suggests, using four year old data, that 20 children per day are hospitalized for gun violence. The overall death rate was 6.1 percent. Assaults were responsible for 62 percent of the cases. Just four percent, 270 patients, were hospitalized for a suicide attempt using a firearm but nearly one third of those patients died.

The term "children" is used in the study and in media coverage to refer to anyone age 20 or younger. Dr. Claire McCarthy points out in a column on Boston.com that the study found that 85 percent of those hospitalized for a firearms injury were between the ages of 15 and 19. In children under age 15, she reports, the shooting is typically accidental. Dr. McCarthy suggests "For the kids under 15, we need to do a better job of preventing accidents from guns."

Based on this 2009 data, it appears that minority teen males are bearing the burden of gun violence in America. The study defines these victims as "children", and they account for 17 of the 20 hospitalizations the study's authors estimate happen each day for a firearms injury. McCarthy states "For the kids older than 15, solutions are likely to be more complicated."

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