Youth gun deaths declined during 1990-1998. (Positive Trend Developing).
Gun-related deaths in 15- to 24-year-olds declined from 25.8 per 100,000 population in 1990 to 19.9 per 100,000 in 1998, Dr. Lawrence J. D'Angelo said in a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Society for Adolescent Medicine.
The decline was demonstrable in all gender and ethnic groups--but was steepest among African American and African Caribbean men. Gun-related deaths among these two groups dipped from 138 per 100,000 to 102 per 100,000 over the same period.
The decrease in mortality was accompanied by a corresponding decrease in the percentage of youths who admitted to carrying a gun in the past 30 days. That figure declined from 7.9% in 1993 to 4.9% in 1999.
The data on gun-related deaths were taken from the National Center for Health Statistics mortality summaries, while the information about carrying guns came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance surveys from 1993 to 1999.
"The good news here is that firearm deaths are markedly down, and related behaviors--such as carrying a gun--also are down significantly," said Dr. D'Angelo, professor of pediatrics at George Washington University, Washington. "In spite of these declines, however, the news media often emphasize negative stories about youths committing acts of violence."
"Our study shows that there's a positive trend at work here, and we need to start talking about it. Health professionals and the public should be made aware of these changes," he said.