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Formerly detained youths had 23 times as many firearm deaths

Firearm-related deaths and injuries unduly affect young people, especially Black and Hispanic males.

A new study in JAMA Network Open gauges the prevalence of such violence in one of the most at-risk populations: youths in the juvenile justice system.

According to data from the 25-year Northwestern Juvenile Project, a longitudinal study of more than 1,800 Chicago youths after detention, formerly detained young people saw up to 23 times the rate of firearm deaths as residents of their home county.

Rates varied by sex, race and ethnicity, and age. Sixteen years after detention, more than one-quarter of Black and Hispanic males had been injured or killed by firearms.

Despite their greater exposure to risk factors like gun access, community violence, substance abuse and gang activity, juveniles in the justice system are rarely the subjects of gun violence research.

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Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.