Pediatric Trauma Society

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Examining The Characteristics Of Violent Child Deaths
*Michael Totoraitis, *Laura Cassidy, Mallory O'Brien
Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI

Background (issue): Children of color who are disproportionately affected by violence are at greatest risk for violence-related firearm injuries and homicide. A comprehensive understanding of the risk factors can inform effective prevention strategies and reduce racial disparities in pediatric violence. This study provides a unique analysis of all pediatric homicide victims in an urban environment.
Methods: Data from the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission for 2014 through 2015 were analyzed for victims less than 21 years old (n= 53) in an urban environment. Homicides were described by cause, primary factor, location of incident, and other factors.
Findings: A total of 83% of the victims were Black, median age of 19. Of known suspects, 56% were acquaintances of the victim, 27% were strangers, 15% were family, 1% was an intimate partner. The majority were due to an argument/fight (36%), with a firearm as the primary weapon (94%). Victims less than 15 years old were more likely to be killed by a handgun (43%), bodily force (36%), arson (14%) and knife (7%). Victims were more likely to be killed in their residence (n=13) or on the street (n=12) and 62% of known suspects killed the victim in the same location, as opposed to death by a bullet fired from the street.
Conclusions (implications for practice): Childhood homicide is a preventable public health issue. Children of color continue to be inequitably affected by homicide and the majority knew their perpetrator. Pediatric trauma centers are located in urban areas; therefore understanding the characteristics of homicides is critical component for trauma centers treating young patients.


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