Three data sets describe the pattern of gunshot injuries to children from 1960 to 1993: The Harlem Hospital pediatric trauma registry (HHPTR), the northern Manhattan injury surveillance system (NMISS) a population-based study, and the National Pediatric Trauma Registry (NPTR). A small case-control study compares the characteristics of injured children with a control group. Before 1970 gunshot injuries to Harlem children were rare. In 1971 an initial rise in pediatric gunshot admissions occurred, and by 1988 pediatric gunshot injuries at Harlem Hospital had peaked at 33. Population-based data through NMISS showed that the gunshot rate for Central Harlem children 10 to 16 years of age rose from 64.6 per 100,000 in 1986 to 267.6 per 100,000 in 1987, a 400% increase. The case fatality for children admitted to Harlem Hospital (1960 to 1993) was 3%, usually because of brain injury, but the majority of deaths occurred before hospitalization. During the same period, felony drug arrests in Harlem increased by 163%. The neighboring South Bronx experienced the same increase in gunshot wound admissions and felony arrests from 1986 to 1993. The NPTR showed a similar injury pattern for other communities in the United States. In a case-control analysis, Harlem adolescents who had sustained gunshot wounds were more likely to have dropped out of school, to have lived in a household without a biological parent, to have experienced parental death, and to have known of a relative or friend who had been shot than community adolescents treated for other medical or surgical problems. Since 1990, the Harlem Injury Prevention Program formed a coalition of school and community organizations joined by the District Attorney's Office in collaboration with the Tactical Narcotic Team (to eliminate drug selling from the schools and playgrounds), to provide safe, supervised activities for children. Data from 1990 to 1992 show a moderate decline in the incidence of gunshot wounds to children. Gun control legislation in conjunction with the community violence prevention activities are needed to curb the epidemic of gunshot injuries.
- trauma registry