Black children in California get disproportionately injured by law enforcement

Infographic about injuries suffered by black youth at hands of law enforcement
Christina Owen/Staff

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A study led by researchers from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health found that Black children in California face a disproportionate amount of injuries from law enforcement compared to white children.

The research was led by Ph.D. students Kriszta Farkas, Catherine Duarte and Professor Jennifer Ahern, all of whom are part of UC Berkeley’s public health division of epidemiology. The study showed that Black boys and Black girls between the ages of 10 and 14 get injured 5.3 and 6.7 times the rate of white boys and white girls according to a press release from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health.

The researchers oversaw a series of injuries that occurred between 2005 and 2017 by looking at data from emergency department visits and inpatient hospitalizations in California. The researchers looked at race, sex and age in order to identify patterns amongst injuries.

“Findings from this study emphasize that experiences of and inequities in hospital-treated injuries caused by law enforcement start at an early age, pointing to an important role that pediatricians and other clinicians have in documenting these incidents, providing appropriate and compassionate care, and advocating for structural change,” Farkas said in an email.

The analysis showed that Black boys between the ages of 15 and 19 experienced the highest rate of injuries caused by law enforcement overall with a rate 3.5 times higher than their white counterparts

Black girls between the ages of 10 and 14 had the highest rate of injuries from law enforcement compared to their white counterparts as well as all boys of that age with the exception of Black boys.

“The findings documented stark racial inequities, with the highest rates of injuries among Black boys and Black girls, and racial inequities that were even wider at younger ages,” Farkas said in an email.

In the press release, Farkas added that there has been prior research done regarding police violence and its correlation with systemic racism in the United States and this study’s findings align with that and adds on more information.

Health organizations such as the American Public Health Association have implemented direction on tackling police violence and its effects on certain youth groups in the United States, Farkas said.

“This research focuses on California specifically, which is the most populous state and often serves as a bellwether for the nation on policing matters,” Farkas said in the email. “However, further research is needed to better understand whether similar patterns in injuries caused by law enforcement among youth are present in contexts outside of California.”

Mia Scher is a crime and courts reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @miascher_dc.

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