Injuries due to family violence involving alcohol, drugs or weapons increased during pandemic stay-at-home months


The proportion of family violence-related injuries in youth ages 10-15 that were associated with alcohol, illegal drugs or weapons increased significantly during the pandemic stay-at-home order at one urban Maryland hospital, according to new research.

The study abstract, “Epidemiology of Injuries to 10–15-year-old Adolescents from Family Violence Evaluated in the Pediatric Emergency Department,” will be presented during the virtual American Academy of Pediatrics 2021 National Conference and Exhibition. Researchers found more than half of 819 teens and pre-teens evaluated for a violence-related injury at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center reported an event that involved a family member, often a parent, and included child maltreatment and physical fighting.

Researchers identified visits for youth 10-15 years of age who presented to the emergency department for evaluation of an injury due to a violent event involving a family member between January 2019 and December 2020. The pre-pandemic period was defined as January 1, 2019-March 29, 2020, and the pandemic period was March 30, 2020 -Dec. 31, 2020, based on the date of the Maryland stay-at-home order issue.

More than half of patients were female, and nearly 82% of the violence-related injuries occurred in the home.  Most youth were transported to the hospital by police (66.7%). Overall, alcohol, illegal drugs and weapons were involved in 10.0%, 6.5%, and 10.7% of events, respectively, and their involvement significantly increased during the pandemic period (from 7.5%, 4.0%, 6.9% to 18.8% 14.9% and 23.8% respectively.)

The authors suggest that the increased involvement of alcohol, illegal drugs and weapons during imposed stay at-home mandates requires investigation as a contributor to violence-related injuries during adolescence.

The research is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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