10/4/10 - violence

In today's excerpt - violence is a recurring problem in America. Five years after their initial injury, twenty percent of those who have had a gunshot or stab wound will be dead:

"According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young black men have a higher rate of both fatal and nonfatal violence than any other group. National statistics show that homicide is the leading cause of death for African American men between the ages Of 15 and 34. In 2006, 2,946 black males between the ages of 15 and 24 were victims of homicide. This means that the homicide rate for black males aged 15 to 24 was 92 in 100,000. For white males in the same age range, the homicide rate was 4.7 in 100,000. In other words, the homicide death rate was more than 19 times higher for young black men than young white men.

"Homicide numbers across the nation have decreased over the past decade, but a closer look at these homicide statistics shows disturbing trends. Daniel Webster and his colleagues at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health have found that although overall homicide rates have appeared stable since 1999, the homicide rate among African American men between the ages of 25 and 44 has increased substantially. It is no wonder, then, that as these homicides are reported in the news, flashed across television screens, and recapitulated in films, we would come to associate young black men with homicide.

"But homicide represents only the tip of the iceberg with regard to violence. Nonfatal injuries are far more common than fatal injuries. The CDC estimates that for every homicide, there are more than 94 nonfatal violent incidents. Even with the increasing lethality of the guns available, the ratio of firearm-related injuries from nonfatal physical assaults to firearm-related homicides was four to one. In other words, for every person who gets shot and dies, another four get shot and survive.

"While it is true that a person is more likely to die of a gunshot wound than from injuries delivered by other kinds of weapons, many young people are stabbed or assaulted.  The ratios of nonfatal to fatal injuries for other types of violence show the same pattern. For those who are stabbed or cut, 64 people survive for each person who dies. For physical assaults, 3,243 people survive for each person who dies. In nonfatal injury, just as in homicide, black males are disproportionately affected. In data from the year 2000, the overall violent assault rate for black males was 4.6 times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white males. Countless others suffer trauma or near-trauma that never comes to the attention of the health care system, like being shot at or being grazed by a bullet or beaten up but not badly enough to seek medical care.

"Studies also show that violence is a recurrent problem. Up to 45 percent of people who have had a penetrating injury—a gunshot or stab wound—will have another similar injury within five years. More disturbing is the finding that five years after their initial injury, 20 percent of these individuals are dead."


John A. Rich, M.D., M.P.H.


Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Trauma and Violence in the Lives of Young Black Men


The Johns Hopkins University Press


Copyright 2009 by Johns Hopkins University Press


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