Firearms are leading cause of death for children in Milwaukee, ER doctor says
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- ER doctors from Milwaukee are speaking out about terrifying trends involving young victims of gun violence. They say the victims keep getting younger and firearms are the number one cause of death for children in the city of Milwaukee and beyond.
Dr. Michael Levas, an ER doctor at Children's Wisconsin, said he's seen more young victims of gun violence through his doors in this last year than ever before. He's been working in Milwaukee for 11 years.
"When we see the upwards of 70 patients we've already treated just this year under the age of 18, it's traumatic," said Dr. Levas.
He said this year alone, seven of his patients died from gun injuries. The hardest part about his job, he said, is breaking the tough news to parents and family.
"It's kept me up at night," said Dr. Levas.
Betty Ross knows all about that pain of losing a loved one to senseless gun violence. Back in April, she lost her 13-year-old granddaughter, Shanaria Wilson, to gun violence.
"It's even worser than the day it happened and the reason I say that is because my daughter lost a child, and one she has a child who is terrified of everything," said Ross.
The grandmother said her family's life is changed forever by that loss.
In an op-ed, Dr. Megan Schultz, an ER medicine physician at Children's Wisconsin, said, "During my fellowship training in Milwaukee, I grew accustomed to seeing bullet-riddled children."
According to several reports, Milwaukee isn’t alone with this issue. Nationally, firearms are the number one cause of death for children.
"It should terrify every parent that the biggest risk to their child's life, whether they live in an urban area, a rural area, or the suburbs, is firearm death. That is what is going to take their children," said Dr. Levas.
Children's Wisconsin offers Project Ujima to help treat a child after experiencing violence.
Dr. Levas said it's not enough to change the rising trends and community engagement is a must.