Increase in children killed from gun violence worries Memphis doctors, police

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said he’s concerned about the number of children being killed in Memphis.

Already this year, 14 children are dead from gun violence. That’s compared to 16 in the whole year of 2019.

Doctors at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital said they’re also seeing an increase in children with firearm injuries.

One doctor said despite having years of experience in trauma, there’s nothing like seeing a child suffering from a gunshot wound.

“Every time we have a child come in with a firearm injury, it hits everyone really hard because it just shouldn’t happen,” Dr. Regan Williams, trauma medical director at Le Bonheur, said.

Dr. Williams said in April, they had 10 children with firearm injuries, compared to the six last April.

But she said nothing compares to 2016, when they saw a huge increase in children with firearm injuries.

She says according to medical records, half were accidental, and the other half were due to intentional shootings.

“Most of the intentional were all related to drive-by shootings,” Dr. Williams said. “Realize when you shoot up a house, there are often children sleeping in that house.”

READ MORE: Memphis police director sounds alarm on rising crime numbers

Dr. Williams said the effects of losing a child to gun violence is painful not just for the families, but for hospital staff as well.

“The nursing, the doctors, everyone that’s involved is really devastated because we don’t see it very often, and we also want all children to survive and live and be able to thrive,” she said.

She said she believes there should be to more community involvement when it comes to children’s safety.

“The community needs to realize that children are around all the time, and they tend to be a bystander in these shootings,” Dr. Williams said. “Two people can have a conflict with each other, but there’s no reason why children should be shot or killed in the middle of that.”

Dr. Williams said she believes the increase in child firearm injuries this year could also be due to the closures related to COVID-19 and unsafe gun storage practices.

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