Keeping Kids Injury Free in Miami

The Injury Free Coalition for Kids

Field of Work: Disseminating a model injury prevention program for children and adolescents.

Problem Synopsis: Injury has long been the leading cause of childhood mortality, morbidity and hospital admissions in the United States. Every day about 20 children die from a preventable injury—more than from all diseases combined, reports the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) based on 2000–06 data.

Incensed by the number of Miami children killed and wounded by gunfire, pediatrician Judy Schaechter, M.D. and the Miami chapter of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids made firearm violence the first target of its work. One of her own patients, a 13-year-old girl, had been left a paraplegic by a stray bullet.

Synopsis of the Work: The Injury Free Coalition for Kids, a national network of local physician-led, hospital-based programs, prevents childhood injuries through education and environmental change. The participating hospitals use epidemiological data to identify areas with high rates of childhood injury and work with community groups to implement interventions.

Injury Free-Miami was a partnership of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine and Jackson Memorial Hospital, an affiliated public hospital that provides care for residents of the city's poorest neighborhoods. The coalition promoted gun buyback events, distributed free trigger locks, developed a gun-safety video and initiated a research program to assess the city's violence-prevention needs.

Key Results: Based on an analysis indicating nearly two-thirds of local pediatric gunshot fatalities involved a caretaker's unlocked weapon, the staff developed educational materials and events on gun safety that emphasized proper storage in the home.

Injury Free also collaborated with other organizations to sponsor youth activities promoting nonviolence—including two summer series of workshops on nonviolence, dating, teen pregnancy and other topics that altogether drew about 1,100 inner-city teens.

By the third grant year, research showed a reduction in local violence-related injuries and a rise in motor vehicle crash injuries. Responding to that data and to the interests expressed by community groups, the program shifted its emphasis to prevention of unintentional injuries—particularly those occurring in homes and on the road.