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Teen gun violence plagues Ohio cities

Associated Press • Oct 14, 2013 at 10:42 AM

The Columbus Dispatch reported state records for 2012 show more than 400 cases of Columbus residents under the age of 20 being shot, robbed, kidnapped or threatened with a gun. Columbus police statistics show half of the offenses were committed by other teens.

Dispatch interviews with youths found that guns are part of the fabric of some neighborhoods. In some, nearly everyone knows someone who has been killed by a gun. The sound of gunshots is common, as is the sight of guns tucked into waistbands.

“It’s expensive to let this problem just continue to go on and on,” said Deanna Wilkinson, an Ohio State University professor who has studied youth violence. “Maybe you don’t have to drive through this neighborhood or know any of these kids personally, but you’re paying for societal neglect of a problem.”

The violence is most frequent in areas of the city with issues such as poverty and vacant housing.

Young people across the state are at risk of gun crime, but it’s particularly a problem in its biggest cities. Statewide, 2,355 teens were victims of a gun crime last year.

The Dispatch reported Cleveland has the highest rate at 97 gun incidents for every 10,000 youths. Cincinnati was second at 95 per 10,000, followed by Toledo at 67 and Columbus at 39.

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