LeBonheur Children’s Hospital reporting increase in gunshot wounds in children

MEMPHIS, TENN. — A four-year-old boy killed in north Memphis is one of three children murdered since January.

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Hospital trauma teams say sadly, it’s just getting worse and worse when it comes to kids and gunshot wounds.

From January to March, LeBonheur Children’s Hospital has treated 32 children with gunshot wounds. Hospital records show a majority of those cases were teens, 15 to 18 years old.

“It’s devastating to see these kids come in,” said Dr. Regan Williams, trauma medical director at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Williams said they treated 67 children with gunshot wounds in 2018, 89 in 2019 and 134 in 2020.

She said gun related injuries often increase during the spring and summer months but she’s concerned about this year’s rate because gun violence didn’t slow down last winter.

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“We’re already very much full, like our hospital’s not full but the adult hospital is really full from all the gunshot wounds that are coming in there and we’re getting a lot more of the adolescences patients to our hospital,” said Williams

While most of their children are able to go home, Dr. Williams said they’re leaving with life altering injuries and many are leaving with psychological scars that can last a lifetime.

“You see an increase in mental illness, we see an increase in high blood pressure, we see a decreased life span so we know there are multiple effects both psychological and physical that occur being exposed to these adverse events when you’re a young child,” she said.

Dr. Williams said most of the gunshot wounds and injuries are related unsafe storage of weapons.

She said the hospital along with other community partners are working on increased gun safety education.