Context: Violence-related injuries among children are common, but age-based incidence data are not easily available.
Objectives: To describe injuries due to violence in a population-based case series of children and to estimate injury incidence.
Design: Prospective surveillance of children residing in Boston, Mass, who received pediatric emergency department treatment for violence-related injury during a 4-year period beginning April 15, 1995.
Setting: Pediatric emergency departments in Boston.
Patients: Children aged 3 through 18 years who came to a hospital emergency department between April 1995 and April 1999. Violence-related injuries were defined as those resulting from a situation of conflict involving 2 or more persons with intent to harm, as assessed by health care personnel caring for the patients. Self-inflicted injuries and injuries caused by child abuse (including any injury resulting from a conflict with a parent or guardian) were excluded. Homicides of Boston children aged 3 through 18 years who were killed during the study period were included based on police data.
Main outcome measure: Population-based violence-related injury rates.
Results: There were 2035 injury-related visits caused by violence, which reflects a rate of 52.7 (95% confidence interval, 50.5-54.9) per 10 000 person-years. Most injuries were relatively minor; 6.4% of visits resulted in admission. The youth violence-related injury rate in Boston declined at an average rate of 12% annually during the period studied.
Conclusion: Pediatric emergency department monitoring of violence-related injury in Boston suggests that childhood injuries due to violence declined during the late 1990s.