Researchers at Washington University have discovered that in St. Louis, Mo., an overwhelming majority of youth that suffer from gun-related injuries are poor, male and African American.

In the study titled, “Firearm Injuries in the Pediatric Population: A Tale of One City,” researchers conducted a five-year review of all pediatric firearm victims 16 years or younger. The study only looked at children brought to the emergency room and did not include children who died from gunshots at the scene or en route to the hospital.

The researchers found that from 2008 to 2013 there were 398 children brought to emergency rooms with firearm-related injuries and 314 of those children were African American, meaning that nearly 78 percent of those gun-related injuries affected people of color.

The data found in the study is similar to other trends in urban cities across the country. The researchers believe the study can help “identify risk factors and stem gun related injuries.”

“Children getting injured by firearms is a major health crisis in this city,” said Dr. Martin S. Keller, an associate professor of surgery at Washington University and the study’s lead author, in a statement on the school’s website. “St. Louis is the focus of this study; however, it’s representative of many other regions in the U.S.”

Another key finding was that 82 percent of all firearm-related injuries and deaths occurred among boys. Most of the boys were African American, with a median age of 15.

Keller said one way to fix the problem is to focus on education. His team of researchers analyzed various zip codes in the St. Louis region, and found that nearly one-third of all of the shootings happen in seven zip codes. In the communities where there were 20 or more shootings during that time period, the average income was just under $25,000.

“People in these high-risk areas need more resources” such as violence-prevention programs, overall educational and job opportunities and activities for children, particularly after school, Keller said. “Without outside help, their risk for firearm injury increases.

If we take a public-health approach to the problem and treat gun violence like we would any other danger facing children, we could decrease gun injuries and deaths,” he added.

jhunter@afro.com