Study: Half Of Chicago Residents Witness Shooting By Age 40

That Chicago is beset by violent crime is a surprise to exactly no one, but a new report by the Journal of the American Medical Association presented a startling conclusion.

Fully half of Chicagoans by age 40 will have personally witnessed a shooting incident.

The comprehensive study tracked the lives of over 2,000 Chicago residents from early childhood and adolescence in the 1990s to the start of their middle age years. What it found was shocking, especially for minority communities.

Research showed 56% of Black and Hispanic residents had encountered at least one act of gun violence by the time they reached 40. That number fell to roughly 25% of White residents, which is better but still far too high.

It speaks to the overall level of decline in the quality of life in the Windy City.

Charles Lanfear, the study’s author and an assistant professor at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology, told local media that the numbers soared past expectations.

As he explained, “we expected levels of exposure to gun violence to be high, but not this high. Describing the study’s findings as “frankly startling and disturbing,” he noted that “a substantial portion of Chicago’s population could be living with trauma as a result of witnessing shootings.”

This, he added, could have come at a very young age.

Data from the extensive research showed that the average age for witnessing a shooting was 14. Men were only slightly more likely than women to have seen a shooting, though they accounted for the large majority of victims.

Results revealed that 7% of Black and Hispanic participants were themselves, gunshot victims, by age 40 compared to 3% of White participants. The average age for becoming a gunshot victim was 17.

Where a person lived had much to do with their exposure to violent incidents. Researchers discovered that areas within 250 meters of Black residences were over 12 times more likely to have shootings than those around homes of White participants.

The rate for Hispanic homes was four times higher than that of the White participants.

Researchers continued to collect data from study participants who moved away from Chicago, though they found most of the shooting incidents occurred within the city.