Kathryn Bocanegra, assistant professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, listening to panelist Arturo Carrillo, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., director of health and violence prevention at Brighton Park Neighborhood Council. (Photo by Erica Tricarico)
Law enforcement officials frequently mischaracterize perpetrators and victims of gun violence, resulting in news headlines and soundbites that sometimes obscure the toll it takes on very young people.
That was the broad message from experts on the “What exposure to chronic violence — especially among children — does to human health” panel at Reporting on Violence as a Public Health Issue: An AHCJ Summit in Chicago.
Dr. Jessica Beard answers AHCJ Board President Felice Freyer’s questions during the lunch talk Q&A. (Photo by Erica Tricarico)
If reporters covered gun violence with greater empathy and context — including telling the story from the victims’ perspectives — instead of doing the more typical episodic reporting, it could reduce psychological harms of and potentially affect the prevalence of gun violence, said Jessica Beard, M.D., M.P.H., a trauma surgeon at Temple University Hospital.
Approximately 45,222 Americans died from gun-related injuries in 2020, the highest recorded number in U.S. history, according to recent CDC data. Firearms were involved in 79% of all homicides and 53% of all suicides.
The suicide rate increased most for American Indian/Alaska Native people while the homicide rate grew most for Black people.
In spite of the risk that guns pose to households, one in five American families bought a handgun during the pandemic, according to University of Chicago NORC research.