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Black Children In California More Likely To Be Hospitalized For Police Violence, Study Shows

According to a new study, Black children in the state of California are more likely to be hospitalized due to police-related injuries. 

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed injuries of children and teenagers sustained by law enforcement from 2005 to 2017. Using data from emergency department visits and inpatient hospitalizations, they found that Black boys ages 15 to 19 had the highest rate of hospitalization due to police violence.

“These findings suggest that the protections of childhood are not afforded to all children and contribute to evidence on policing as a pathway through which structural racism operates in young people’s lives,” Kriszta Farkas, one of the researchers of the study, said, NPR reported. 

The largest disparity, however, was found in the 10 to 14 age group, where Black boys and girls aged are injured at 5.3 and 6.7 times, respectively, the rate for white boys and girls who are the same age.

“This study also highlights the need for more comprehensive and reliable population-based data sources on police violence in the United States and motivates further research to better understand the burden of police violence among youth in contexts outside of California,” Farkas added.

Researchers noted that their findings converged with the idea that Black girls are “adultified” more than white girls, meaning Black girls are “perceived as older than they are, less innocent, and in need of less protection—with serious repercussions for more aggressive legal system targeting.”

The data also suggests that the violence impacting Black girls increased to an even higher rate overall than white boys and Latinx boys. 

The UC Berkeley study mirrors a report from 2017 by The Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality (GCPI), entitled “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood,” which also studied the “adultification” of Black girls. 

The report showed that adults in America tend to think that Black girls are less in need of nurturing, and seem older than similarly aged white girls, which could lead to harsher punishments in school.

“This new evidence of what we call the ‘adultification’ of black girls may help explain why black girls in America are disciplined much more often and more severely than white girls, across our schools and in our juvenile justice system,” Rebecca Epstein, lead author of the report and executive director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality at the Georgetown University Law Center, said, NBC News reported.

In addition, the report revealed that American adults think Black girls know more about adult topics and sex than white girls of the same age. Those perceptions are even more prominent when it comes to younger Black girls ages 5 to 9 and 10 to 14. As for girls aged 15 to 19, the discrepancies continue, but to a lesser degree.

“These findings show that pervasive stereotypes of Black women as hypersexualized and combative are reaching into our schools and playgrounds and helping rob Black girls of the protections other children enjoy,” co-author Jamilia Blake, a Texas A&M University professor, said.

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