A year after the global movement protesting police violence against Black Americans, a new study shows how glaring the difference is for Black youth in California who have encounters with police.
Public health researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed data from 13 years of police encounters with people younger than 20 and found that Black boys had 5.3 times the injury rate of white boys and Black girls had 6.7 times the injury rate of white girls who had encountered police.
The overall injury rate in youth-police encounters declined markedly starting in 2013, according to the report. The data used for analysis spans 12 years — from 2005 to 2017 — and comes from a study published in September by the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Pediatrics. It was first reported by the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange journalism project.
The UC Berkeley authors studied nearly 16,000 police-youth “legal intervention injury” encounters in California. About 46% of the patients were Hispanic; 24% were white; 19% were Black; just under 2% were Asian or Pacific Islander; and less than half a percent were Native American or Alaska Native. The vast majority were boys or young men.
“We examined demographic and temporal distributions of hospital-treated injuries perpetrated by law enforcement among youth at the intersection of age, sex, and race and ethnicity,” the authors wrote, noting that the few studies on police violence among youth has mostly focused on boys alone, “potentially obscuring important patterns.”
The authors noted that previous studies have shown that police violence damages people’s health for the rest of their lives, especially when first encountered in childhood. Kriszta Farkas, a Ph.D. in UC Berkeley’s Division of Epidemiology within the School of Public Health, is listed as the lead author.