Many Kids Who're Assaulted Own Guns Themselves

This probably won't come as a surprise to very many, but did you know that 25% of young people injured in assaults own guns?

According to Michelle Healy at usatoday.com, "Among young people ages 14 to 24 who received care in a hospital emergency department for assault-related injuries, 23% said they owned a firearm in the past six months."

Even worse, only 17% of those who said they owned guns got them legally, says the report, in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics, published online today, Healy reports.

Almost 700 young people who sought care at a major trauma center in Flint, Mich., were surveyed by the  University of Michigan Injury Center for the study.  About 14% were younger than age 18, and "32% had children of their own," Healy notes the shocking facts.

Not surprisingly, "those with firearms were more likely to use illegal drugs, have been involved in a serious fight, and to endorse the position that 'revenge was a good thing,' and that it was 'OK to hurt people if they hurt you first,'" she writes.

Now I must admit that I used to not have any sympathy for young people running around with guns who got shot.  Serves 'em right, I thought.  But then I met some kids who probably would fall into that category sooner or later, due to circumstances way beyond their control, like neglect, abandonment, poverty, and I suddenly saw my ignorance.

I'm not naive enough to think we can save the boys of Chicago, but if only we had caring adults out there who could take these kids under their wings, show them that they count, and that life isn't all struggle and fighting for survival, maybe things would be different.  I'm not smoking crack.  Really.

I help out at a homework club at my church with children who are underprivileged and some of these kids, I know as well as my own son, would have fallen into gangs and maybe even own firearms by now, if our volunteers hadn't stepped in and been tough with them when they needed it, but loved them, too.  It sounds naive, I know, but I've seen it work.  I've even helped a few of these kids.

But it will never happen.  It's just so sad.  These kids don't have to travel down this often fatal path, but they just don't see an alternative.  If all you're around is failure and drugs and violence and revenge, what hope do you have?

One of the most awful things this past school year was hearing about a boy in my son's honors math class who was clearly the smartest kid in the class.  But he had behavior problems -- possibly ADHD or even Asperger's -- that went totally untreated, and he was shipped off to an alternate school where the kids mostly play basketball all day.

What's going to become of this boy who really could go out and do something with his life?  Probably not a banking career, but an entrepreneur or an entertainer.  And now he's going nowhere.

I know I sound like a "liberal," as my husband always brands me, but our kids are killing themselves and no one's doing anything about it.  







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