Homicide was the leading cause of “unexpected” deaths for children in Baltimore over the past five years, according to a city health report.
The report said that from 2016 to 2020, 208 minors 17 years old or younger “died in unusual and unexpected circumstances” in the city, with the leading cause of death among that group being homicide.
Forty-five children from the ages of seven to 17 were killed by someone outside their family, according to the report, while 24 children from birth to the age of seven were killed by a parent or guardian.
The children who died in “unusual and unexpected circumstances,” were predominantly infants and toddlers or 16- or 17-year-olds who were involved in the justice system and struggling in school, according to the report.
Children of color made up 90 percent of those who died under such circumstances, per the report, and 66 percent of the children had dealt with a high level of trauma, having been found to have experienced four or more adverse childhood experiences.
The parents and guardians of the children who had died under such circumstances were found to be dealing with a number of issues including substance abuse, mental health disorders, their own past abuse, poverty, domestic violence or living in violent areas, according to the report.
“As a city, we continue to lose too many of our young people to violence and neglect. These are children and teenagers who will never be able to grow up and realize their full potential,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D) said in a letter included in the report.
“This report and its recommendations tie directly into our shared vision for equity throughout our city. An overwhelming majority of the young people we lose to violence each year are children of color. We cannot lift our Black and Brown communities out of poverty and overcome systemic disinvestment without specifically prioritizing the safety of our youth,” he added.
Other unexpected causes of fatality in the report included sleep-related suffocations, which resulted in 69 deaths, and accidental deaths due to “fires, motor vehicle crashes, drownings, and accidental firearms discharge,” among other causes, which resulted in 40 deaths. The cause of 12 deaths were undetermined, and seven were found to be a result of suicide.