Online Program

Gun Violence and its impact on Children: Legislative and Clinical Approaches to decreasing firearm injuries

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 1:14 p.m. - 1:27 p.m.

Eric Fleegler, MD MPH, Division of Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
BackgroundBetween 6,500 and 7,300 children and young adults (ages 0-24) die annually via firearms, including ~200 unintentional deaths,  ~4000 homicides, and ~2500 suicides. Three to five times these numbers sustain firearm-related injuries.  Thirty four percent of children in the U.S. live in households with firearms present, representing more than 22 million children.  Over 40% of these households store guns either unlocked and loaded, unlocked with ammunition (unloaded), or unlocked without ammunition. The pediatric developmental spectrum represents a dangerous time period related to firearms. Most children know where firearms are stored in a household, even if the parents think otherwise. Younger children’s natural curiosity draws them to handling firearms; numerous studies demonstrate the inability to train children not to touch, hold, or pull the trigger of a firearm. Emotionally labile adolescents frequently exhibit poor decision making related to thoughts of hurting oneself or others.


Review of the literature related to firearm legislation and interventions.

Results   Interventions can make a difference. On a public health level, firearm-related legislation likely reduces the risk of firearm injuries and fatalities through changes in gun ownership rates and storage practices.  On an individual level, straightforward interventions performed by clinicians can both educate families about the risks associated with firearms as well as provide information about proper storage. These interventions improve safe storage practices and likely reduce the risk of pediatric injuries and deaths.

ConclusionsPediatric firearm-related deaths are not inevitable. Proper legislation and education interventions can reduce the risk of unnecessary deaths.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Clinical medicine applied in public health
Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe both the potential impact legislation can have and well as interventions clinicians can use, to decrease risk of pediatric firearm injuries and deaths.

Keyword(s): Community-Based Partnership & Collaboration, Youth Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Pediatric emergency physician, 15 years, treating pediatric patients at Boston Children’s Hospital, and a health services researcher with focus on firearm and injury prevention. Teaches at Harvard Medical School “Introduction to Social Medicine and Global Health”. Developed two web-based systems, one that evaluates families’ social needs and helps them connect to social services; and an Integrated Clinical Information Sharing System used to manage nearly 4000 patients and is part of a cluster randomized control trial.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.