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Homicide ranks high among Baltimore child fatalities, report finds

BALTIMORE — Homicide was the leading cause of “unexpected or unusual” death for children in Maryland’s largest city in recent years, according to a Baltimore government report.

Of the 208 such deaths among children younger than age 18 in the city for a five-year period ending in 2020, 69 were from homicides, The Baltimore Sun reported.

The Child Fatality Task Report, created by officials and led by the city health department, also outlines efforts to reduce the fatalities. The number of “unexpected or unusual” child fatalities was lower compared to 2011-2015, when there were 236.

“As a city, we continue to lose too many of our young people to violence and neglect. These are children and teenagers who will never be able to grow up and realize their full potential,” Mayor Brandon Scott said in a statement, adding that the report and its recommendations “tie directly into our shared vision for equity throughout our city.”

Eighty-five percent of the children who died were non-Hispanic Black residents, the latest report said, compared to the ethnic group comprising 62% of Baltimore’s overall population.

There were also 60 sleep-related deaths, and 40 identified as accidents such as drownings, car crashes and accidental shootings.

The city already has a program designed to reduce deaths from sudden infant death syndrome. Scott said he wants to expand violence prevention efforts with new federal funds. The report also highlights goals to support parents dealing with drug use and to prioritize health care agencies and providers in preventing fatalities.