A heartbreaking new study lays bare the bleak reality of the US epidemic of violent crime.
Harvard University researchers have analyzed gun violence data in Chicago over the course of a generation, collected from 2,418 residents between 1995 and 2021 to determine exposure to shootings by race, sex and birth year.
“The idea here was to take a life-course perspective,” one of the study’s authors, Harvard professor Robert Sampson, said in a press release. “When is exposure to gun violence happening? How does that change over the life course? And how do those patterns vary by race, sex and all the societal changes that are happening?”
The study’s findings are shocking: Around half of black and Hispanic respondents reported that they had seen a shooting — and were just 14 years old on average at the time they witnessed it.
Meanwhile, over 7% of black and Hispanic respondents each reported that they had been direct victims of gun violence, shot for the first time at an average age of 17.
“Particularly for black and Hispanic males growing up in urban neighborhoods, seeing someone shot or being shot before even reaching age 20 years is pervasive,” the study bluntly stated.
Of the 2,418 Chicago residents who were involved in the study, half were men and half were women. In all, 37% were black, 16% were white and 47% were Hispanic.
In order to be eligible, respondents had to have been born in one of four separate years — 1981, 1984, 1987 or1996 — as study authors wanted to determine which specific age groups were most impacted by gun violence.
The authors concluded that those born in 1981 and 1984 were most likely to have witnessed gun violence, as crime rates peaked in the early- to mid-’90s — around the same time they came of age.
In 1995, those aged 14 — the average age a respondent reported having witnessed a shooting — a staggering 827 homicides were reported in Chicago, according to the city’s official police records.
In the same year, a whopping 12,182 cases of aggravated assault involving a gun were clocked across the Windy City.
Crime rates drastically dropped in the ensuing years, meaning those born in the 1987 and 1996 cohorts were less likely to have witnessed gun violence.
“The 1987 cohort reached mid-to-late adolescence during the low-violence period of the early 2000s, whereas the twp older cohorts reached the same developmental stage in a more violent era in the 1990s,” the study explained.
However, crime rates in Chicago have started to surge again in recent years, sparking fresh fears that those in the younger cohorts may be further exposed to gun violence.
“In 2015 or 2016, violence in the United States, but particularly in Chicago, started to skyrocket,” Sampson explained, saying a huge majority of homicides are carried out with guns.
In 2021, Chicago reported 800 homicides — just 27 fewer than the number reported in the high-crime year of 1995.
The Harvard study also concluded that gun violence in the Windy City has disproportionately impacted people of color. A staggering 56% of black respondents and 56% of Hispanic respondents had witnessed someone being shot, in comparison to 25% of whites.
Similarly, the data also determined that black and Hispanic respondents were more than twice as likely to have been the direct victim of gun violence by the time they reached 40: 7.4% of black respondents and 7% of Hispanic respondents had been shot, in comparison to 3.1% of whites.
Elsewhere, the data determined that men were more than five times as likely to be shot than women — 11% vs. 2%.
However, there was far less difference between the sexes in relation to the witnessing of gun violence: 58% of male respondents had witnessed a shooting in comparison to 43% of female respondents.
Sampson and the study’s other authors assert that their analysis will help paint a clearer picture of Chicago’s gun crime and the long-term impacts it has on communities
“A broader focus beyond fatalities to include nonfatal gunshot injuries and witnessing of incidents is critical for understanding the full health outcomes associated with firearm violence,” they declared.
Read the full article here
Discussion about this post