Columbine: 25 years later, steps taken in hospitals to provide gun awareness for children

ByLauren Glassberg WABC logo
Friday, April 19, 2024
How the Columbine shooting changed the way hospitals treat pediatric gunshot victims
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NEW YORK CITY -- Twenty-five years after the mass shooting at Columbine High School, Eyewitness News is looking back and examining how one local hospital is providing awareness to stem the increase of child injuries from guns.

"Week after week, month after month, to see kids injured by guns," said Dr. Chethan Sathya, a pediatric trauma surgeon at Cohen's Children's Medical Center. "It's a horrific thing to experience, you feel hopeless, helpless.

Sathya told Eyewitness News reporter Lauren Glassberg she operates on many of the victims, including the 32 children who were treated at the hospital for gun injuries between 2022 and 2023.

"We have seen a 350% increase in the number of kids coming in with gun injuries just last year compared to the year prior," he added.

That increase is reflected across the country, as every day 12 children die from gun violence, and 32 are injured. The horrifying trend has warranted action, says Dr. Monica Shekher-Kapoor.

"Never did I think firearm injuries were as high as it is," she said.

Shekher-Kapoor acknowledged that in addition to treating these young victims, the hospital is focused on addressing the problem. They've launched PSAs and staff members wear shirts about firearm safety awareness. All pediatric patients 12 and up also get screened about weapons.

"We have found that a child that comes in for an arm injury and has a brother who has a shotgun no one knows about," said Shekher-Kapoor.

The hospital gives out gun locks too. Gun violence is the leading cause of death in children.

"If we can prevent these preventable deaths, then we are doing a service to our community," noted Sathya. "It's not about gun ownership or gun control, it's about firearm safety, safer communities and violence prevention."