A new report by a Madison-based non-profit shows a spike in the number of children killed with firearms in Wisconsin.
According to Kids Forward, 33 children in Wisconsin were killed with guns in 20016. That’s the highest number since 2003.
The 2016 numbers also show 11 child deaths traced to guns in Milwaukee County. That’s the highest number recorded here since 2007.
“2016 was an especially dangerous year for children,” said Tamarine Cornelius, an analyst with Kids Forward.
The report also compiled numbers of how many children were killed with firearms between the years of 1999 and 2016.
In Milwaukee County, that number was 184. African-American children made up the vast majority of the victims: 141.
“We’re doing a particularly bad job of protecting our black children from gun violence,” Cornelius said.
Community leaders in Milwaukee were saddened by the statistics.
“It pains me,” said Vincent Lyles, President & CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.
He said his organization is working hard to provide local youths with positive spaces to learn and hang out.
“We’re trying to make a difference with African-American boys. We’re in 42 neighborhoods, 50 locations are the city, trying to create these safe places,” Lyles said.
He added he was troubled not just by the number of gun homicides detailed in the report, but also by the 45 percent of child gun deaths from 1999-2016 that were suicides and the 6 percent that were accidental.
“We’re not giving up,” Lyles said. “We’re not looking at these reports and saying the sky is falling. We’re recognizing there’s work to be done, and we’ll do it.”
Milwaukee Alderman Russell Stamper said he would like to see all the organizations in Milwaukee that work with youth come together and formulate a plan for helping to reduce gun violence.
He thinks there needs to be increased education about the dangers of firearms for kids and their parents.
Stamper also thinks more economic opportunities in Milwaukee’s inner city would help combat the problem.
“If you’re working, and putting money in your pocket, you don’t have time for crime,” Stamper said.