The topic of big-city crime has received significant media attention in recent years, but abstract reports often fail to reflect the turmoil that many residents of these communities experience.
One recent study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association provides some stark details about gun violence in Chicago, Illinois. According to researchers, roughly 50% of those living in the Windy City witness a shooting by the time they turn 40.
Among those who had seen at least one shooting, the experience occurred at an average age of 14.
Breaking down the report further, evidence shows that minorities are more likely to report such an experience. About 56% of Black and Hispanic Chicagoans tracked since the 1990s witnessed an incident of gun violence, compared to about one-fourth of White individuals.
A significant number of those individuals included in the study were victims of gun violence. About 7% of Black and Hispanic individuals said they had been shot by the time they reached the age of 40. Roughly 3% of White individuals reported the same.
The average age of those who had been shot was just 17 years old.
As the detailed report determined, racial disparities were even more pronounced when considering how close gun violence occurred to a participant’s home.
Researchers indicated that Black individuals were more than 12 times more likely to report a shooting within 250 meters of their residence than a White individual. Among Hispanics, the rate was about four times higher than among Whites.
Aside from the initial trauma of witnessing or being directly involved in a shooting, study author Dr. Charles Lanfear explained the lasting effects of such systemic violent crime.
“Existing evidence suggests that the long-term stress of exposure to firearm violence can contribute to everything from lower test scores for school kids to diminished life expectancy through heart disease,” he wrote.
A growing number of Chicagoans are fleeing the area amid its soaring crime rate — including one long-time prosecutor who provided his reasoning in a frank letter to his colleagues.
A veteran Cook County prosecutor who quit last week sent a goodbye email to colleagues:
"I always kind of figured an email like this would start with 'It is with a heavy heart that I leave…' The truth is, I can’t get out of here fast enough"
— CWBChicago (@CWBChicago) May 7, 2023
After outlining a string of soft-on-crime policies being embraced by the Cook County State Attorney’s Office, Jason Poje offered a personal reason for his decision to resign.
“I will not raise my son here,” he declared. “I am fortunate to have the means to escape, so my entire family is leaving the State of Illinois. I grew up here, my family and friends are here, and yet my own employer has turned it into a place from which I am no longer proud to be, and in which my son is not safe.”