Firearm Homicide Rate for Young Black Men in Chicago Drops, but Still Shockingly High

Newswise — For black male adolescents in Chicago, the rate of firearm homicide dropped by 25 percent from 2016 to 2017, based on the latest available data from the Illinois Violent Death Reporting System (IVDRS) released by the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. 2016 was a peak year when the firearm homicide rate for black adolescent males in Chicago was nearly 50 times the national rate for adolescents. Despite this progress, black male adolescents were still 35 times more likely to die from firearm homicide in 2017 than U.S. adolescents, and 13 times more likely than all other adolescents in Chicago.

“While we see a decline in adolescent firearm homicides in Chicago, the rates are still shockingly elevated, up by 74 percent from 2013 to 2017,” says Maryann Mason, PhD, Principal Investigator of IVDRS at Lurie Children’s and Research Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This is clearly a public health crisis for adolescents in Chicago. We hope our data helps to drive change that is desperately needed.”

Between 2013 and 2017, the pattern of violence showed significant consolidation into the south and west sides of the city, as violence became overall less dispersed. The Chicago community area with the highest amount of youth firearm homicide shifted from the south side of the city (South Shore) in 2013 to the west side (Austin and North Lawndale) by 2017.

“Violence is lessening on the south side over time, possibly due to grassroots and city initiatives, and instead the west side is leading in Chicago's pediatric gun violence,” says Simran Chadha, medical student who also worked on the IVDRS report. “Hopefully we'll start to see some successful initiatives in the west side communities.”

In efforts to prevent violence, Lurie Children’s convenes a collaborative called Strengthening Chicago Youth (SCY) that connects and mobilizes the community to confront this critical issue. SCY also provides training, support and evidence-based strategies for violence prevention.

IVDRS is part of the National Violent Death Reporting System, a program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Injury Center, which pools information about the “who, when, where and how” of violent deaths to provide a more complete picture and develop insight into “why” they occur. The IVDRS project at Lurie Children’s collects data from 16 Illinois counties that account for over 80 percent of violent deaths in Illinois annually. The latest IVDRS Data Brief examines adolescent (15 to 19 years of age) firearm homicide rates per 100,000 by Chicago community area over a five-year interval: 2013 to 2017.

This data brief was supported by Grant Number 6NU17CE002590-04-01, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services. Additional support was also provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health and an anonymous donor.

Population-focused child health research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through the Mary Ann & J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research, Outreach, and Advocacy Center at the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of new knowledge. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals in the U.S. News & World Report. It is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Last year, the hospital served more than 212,000 children from 49 states and 51 countries.