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Black Males and Urban Violence

By on June 25, 2012

It’s not cancer, heart disease, or even HIV/AIDS, but violence is being cited as the new raging public health crisis in America. Violence related to guns, domestic issues, or drugs that result in fatalities, especially among black males is a growing concern among health officials.

Gun-related homicide among young men rose sharply in the United States according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Between 1999 and 2005, homicide involving firearms increased 31% among black men ages 25 to 44 and 12% among white men of the same age. The study is published in Online First edition of the Journal of Urban Health.

“The recent flatness of the U.S. homicide rate obscures the large increases in firearm death among males ages 25-44, especially black males,” said Susan Baker, MPH, co-author of the study and a professor with the Bloomberg School’s Center for Injury Research and Policy.

The most significant increases occurred in Alabama, California, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. Homicides in Chicago have risen about 35% in 2012 compared to this time in 2011, creating a burden on hospitals, a trauma surgeon said.

Dr. Thomas Esposito — chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. — said 92 people were shot, 14 fatally, during the consecutive weekends of June 9 and June 16 in the third-largest city in the United States. This type of preventable violence is what’s causing distress among public health and mental health professionals as the trends in violence impacts poor and minority communities and in some realms seems “acceptable.” It’s become expected at the start of summer that urban communities brace themselves for a swell of gun and other violence.

The good news for 2012 is that in cities of New York and Los Angeles — and overall nationally — violent crime is slightly down since January. Some opportunities to reduce violence, in part requires education and access. More education throughout the lifespan for the country on how subtle aggression and violence can enter your relationships and become “acceptable.” Access to free, local support is also critical for victims.

“As a level 1 trauma center, Loyola is used to caring for the worst of the worst, but things have escalated to the point where the worst now is often lying dead in the streets,” Esposito said in a statement. “It’s not just the weather that is heating up this public health problem — the reasons are multifactorial.”

Dr. Hieu Ton-That, a trauma surgeon at Loyola, said violence, like cancer, is a disease and needs to be treated with constant education, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.


  1. Staff Contributor

    July 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    It’s an area where there is widespread agreement that an intervention is required yet the devastation continues. What are missing here?

  2. John Glover

    July 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    We need to seriously address this issue and do something about it.

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