Juvenile Crime and Victimization

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Juvenile Crime and Victimization

Chapter 7: Juvenile Crime and Victimization

THE UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS AND THE NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMIZATION SURVEY
CRIME TRENDS
JUVENILE OFFENDERS
JUVENILE VICTIMS OF CRIME

THE UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS AND THE NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMIZATION SURVEY

Two main government sources collect crime statistics. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) compiles the annual Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). The FBI notes in Crime in the United States, 2007 (September 2008, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/index.html) that the UCR, which was begun in 1930, now collects data from 17,738 city, county, and state law enforcement agencies.

The second set of crime statistics is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which is prepared by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Established in 1972, the survey is an annual federal statistical study that measures the levels of victimization resulting from criminal activity in the United States. According to the BJS, in Crime and Victims Statistics (August 29, 2008, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cvict.htm), the survey collects data from a nationally representative sample of approximately 76,000 households each year, containing about 135,300 people, on the frequency, characteristics and consequences of criminal victimization. The survey was previously known as the National Crime Survey, but it was renamed and redesigned in 1992 to emphasize the measurement of victimization experienced by citizens. The survey was created because of a concern that the UCR did not fully portray the true volume of crime. The UCR provides data on crimes reported to law enforcement authorities, but it does not estimate how many crimes went unreported.

The NCVS is designed to complement the UCR. It measures the levels of criminal victimization of people and households for the crimes of rape, robbery, assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and larceny. Murder is not included because the NCVS data are gathered through interviews with victims. Definitions for these crimes are the same as those established by the UCR.

Some observers believe the NCVS is a better indicator of the volume of crime in the United States than the FBI statistics. Nonetheless, like all surveys, it is subject to error. The survey depends on people's memories of incidents that happened up to six months earlier. Many times, a victim is not sure what happened, even moments after the crime occurred. In addition, the NCVS limits the data to victims aged 12 and older, an admittedly arbitrary age selection.

CRIME TRENDS

Violent and Property Crimes

Michael R. Rand of the BJS reports in Criminal Victimization, 2007 (December 2008, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cv07.pdf) that in 2007 U.S. residents experienced 22.9 million violent and property victimizations. Of these crimes, 17.5 million were property crimes (burglary, motor vehicle theft, and theft), 3.7 million were violent crimes (rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault), and 194,100 were personal thefts (pocket picking and purse snatching). The rate of rape/sexual assault was up from 2005, but the rate for every other type of crime had decreased. (Budget constraints in 2006 changed data collection methods; therefore, 2006 data cannot be compared to previous and current years.)

According to Rand, between 2005 and 2007 the average yearly rate of violent crimes per 1,000 people aged 12 and older was essentially unchanged. In 2005 the violent crime rate was 21.1 per 1,000 people, and in 2007 it was 20.7 per 1,000 people, a decrease of 1.9%. For property crimes, the rate was 154.2 per 1,000 people in 2005 and 146.5 per 1,000 people in 2007, a decline of 5%. The rate for personal theft witnessed an 11.1% decrease, from 0.9 per 1,000 people to 0.8 per 1,000 people. Rand indicates that the 2007 violent and property crime rates were at their lowest levels since 1973, the first year when these data became available.

The UCR reports that most violent crimesincluding murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assaultremained fairly steady between 2006 and 2007, except for forcible rape, which decreased

2.5% between 2006 and 2007. The UCR also recorded decreasing violent crime rates over time. The violent crime rate had decreased from 758.2 per 100,000 people in 1991 to 466.9 per 100,000 in 2007.

According to the UCR, there were an estimated 9.8 million property crimes, including burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft, in 2007, down from nearly 10 million in 2006. This decline continued a long-term trend; in 2007, the property crime rate was 3,263.5 per 100,000 people, compared to a rate of 5,140.2 per 100,000 in 1991. This was a decrease of 37% in 16 years.

Trends in Juvenile Crime

According to the FBI, from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s youth violence and crime grew at rapid rates. In Juvenile Victims and Offenders: 2006 National Report (March 2006, http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/ojstatbb/nr2006/downloads/NR2006.pdf), Howard N. Snyder and Melissa Sickmund of the National Center for Juvenile Justice look at juvenile homicide trends. They find that between 1980 and 2002, murders by juveniles were highest in 1993 and 1994. During this 22-year span, the murders involving juvenile offenders acting alone decreased 68% and murders involving two or more juvenile offenders fell 60%.

The surge in youth crime and violence caused much concern in society. Various groupspublic and privateundertook the mission of trying to uncover the reasons juvenile crime was on the rise. Lawmakers responded by toughening existing laws and finding ways to try more juveniles as adults. Courts levied stricter sentences, and parents and educators looked into various programs and methods geared to help their children and students deal with the situation. (See Chapter 10.)

However, the rise in juvenile crime did not last. Snyder and Sickmund note that in the 10-year period between 1994 and 2003, juvenile arrests decreased by 18%, compared to a 1% increase in arrests of adults during the same period. The arrest rate of juveniles for murder in 2003 was the lowest since at least 1980. According to Snyder and Sickmund, The juvenile violent crime wave predicted by some in the mid-1990s has not occurred.

JUVENILE OFFENDERS

For some young people, their teenage and young adult years are difficult and challenging times. Even though their peers are playing baseball, going to proms, singing in the school choir, heading to college, and making plans for the future, some juveniles and youths are, for whatever reason, committing crimes and having brushes with the law. When dealing with young offenders, each state has its own definition of the term juvenile : Most states put the upper age limit at 17 years old, although some states set it as low as 14 years old. When reporting its national crime statistics, the FBI considers those under the age of 18 to be juveniles. The FBI often breaks its juvenile crime statistics into age-based subcategories, such as age 16 and older and age 15 and younger, to demonstrate how juvenile offenses vary with age. The FBI does the same with youth, who are often defined as 18 to 24. However, some organizations and studies classify youth age ranges differently, citing youths as those aged 18 to 21 or aged 18 to 25.

The U.S. Department of Justice defines crime as all behaviors and acts for which society provides formally approved punishments. Written law, both federal and state, defines which behaviors are criminal and which are not. Some behaviorsmurder, robbery, and burglaryhave always been considered criminal. Other actions, such as domestic violence or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, became classified as criminal actions more recently. Other changes in society have also influenced crime. For example, the widespread use of computers provides new opportunities for white-collar cybercrime, including identity theft and the malicious spread of computer viruses and worms.

Crime can range from actions as simple as taking a candy bar from a store without paying for it, to those as severe and violent as murder. Most people have broken some law, wittingly or unwittingly, at some time in their lives. Therefore, the true extent of criminality is impossible to measure. Researchers can only keep records of what is reported by victims or known to the police.

Risk Factors for Youth Violence

Various government entities, schools, student and parent organizations, and research groups have devoted countless hours to the issue of youth violence. One of their goals is to find ways to recognize the potential for violent behavior in youth before it becomes a serious problem. They work individually and sometimes collectively to outline trends in youth violence and to determine what factors lead to violent behavior.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines in Understanding Youth Violence: Fact Sheet (2008, http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/YVFactSheet.pdf) the risk factors that increase the likelihood that a young person will become violent. These factors include a history of violent victimization or prior violence; drug, alcohol, or tobacco use; association with delinquent peers; a dysfunctional family life; poor grades; and poverty in the family or community. The CDC recommends several approaches to stopping youth violence, including programs to improve family relationships, school-based programs to treat nonviolent social development, role modeling through mentoring programs, and changes to physical and social environments to address the social and economic causes of violence.

In Warning Signs of Youth Violence (2004, http://www.apahelpcenter.org/featuredtopics/feature.php?id¼38 &ch¼3), the American Psychological Association lists immediate signs that youth violence is a serious possibility as well as

signs over a period that indicate a potential for violence. Signs that violence may be imminent include frequently losing temper, vandalizing, increasing substance use or risk-taking behavior, developing plans to commit violence, enjoying hurting animals, or carrying a weapon. The potential for violence exists when a young person has a history of aggressive behavior or substance abuse, has a strong desire to be in a gang, has a fascination with weapons, begins to withdraw from friends and usual activities, performs poorly in school, fails to respect the feelings or rights of others, or has a history of discipline problems.

In response to the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, the U.S. surgeon general began a comprehensive study of the status of youth and violence in the nation. Issued in 2001, Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/youthviolence/) addresses many aspects of crime and violence, including risk factors for violence among youth aged 15 to 18. The report contains detailed information on early onset factors (ages six to 11), which include exposure to violence on television and substance abuse, as well as late onset factors (ages 12 to 14), which include aggression in general, antisocial attitudes, and abusive parents.

Those involved in the study of youth violence are quick to point out, however, that people need to be cautious when reacting to someone exhibiting warning signs. Even though it is important to provide help to a teenager with violent tendencies, harm could be caused by mislabeling him or her as being violent or by overreacting to a set of circumstances.

Homicide

The UCR defines murder and nonnegligent manslaughter as the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another. However, it also stipulates that deaths caused by negligence, suicide, or accident; justifiable homicides; and attempts to murder or assaults to murder,are scored as aggravated assaults. Approximately 16,929 murders and nonnegligent manslaughters occurred in 2007, down 0.6% from 2006.

In 2007, 17,040 people were identified as murder offenders, including 981 males and 80 females under the age of 18, and 3,574 males and 264 females under the age of 22. (See Table 7.1.) Because the identity of all murder offenders is not known, such figures are lower than they would be if all offenders had been identified. Those under age 18 represented 6.2% of all known murder offenders in that year, whereas those under age 22 represented 22.6% of all known murder offenders. Fewer than one out of 10 of all known murderers were female; 92.3% of all murder offenders under age 18 and 93% of all murder offenders under age 22 were males.

 
TABLE 7.1 Murder offenders by age, sex, and race, 2007
Age Total Sex Race
Male Female Unknown White Black Other Unknown
aBecause of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
bDoes not include unknown ages.
SOURCE: Expanded Homicide Data Table 3. Murder Offenders by Age, Sex, and Race, 2007, in Crime in the United States, 2007, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, September 2008, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_03.html (accessed November 11, 2008)
   Total 17,040 10,975 1,206 4,859 5,278 6,463 245 5,054
Percent distributiona 100.0 64.4 7.1 28.5 31.0 37.9 1.4 29.7
Under 18b 1,063 981 80 2 372 663 21 7
Under 22b 3,845 3,574 264 7 1,403 2,321 82 39
18 and overb 10,146 9,023 1,098 25 4,766 5,038 218 124
Infant (under 1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 to 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 to 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
9 to 12 10 8 2 0 4 5 1 0
13 to 16 542 493 47 2 187 344 7 4
17 to 19 1,966 1,843 122 1 699 1,202 48 17
20 to 24 2,772 2,516 250 6 1,104 1,578 59 31
25 to 29 1,891 1,679 201 11 803 1,019 35 34
30 to 34 1,109 982 126 1 550 525 18 16
35 to 39 811 697 114 0 444 341 19 7
40 to 44 680 553 126 1 405 250 19 6
45 to 49 540 453 86 1 328 185 18 9
50 to 54 371 323 46 2 234 125 9 3
55 to 59 231 204 26 1 158 71 0 2
60 to 64 130 112 17 1 98 27 3 2
65 to 69 75 68 7 0 60 13 2 0
70 to 74 26 24 2 0 23 3 0 0
75 and over 55 49 6 0 41 13 1 0
Unknown 5,831 971 28 4,832 140 762 6 4,923

In 2007, 31% of all murderers were known to be white, 37.9% were known to be African-American, and 29.7% were of unknown race. (See Table 7.1.) These proportions were similar for juvenile murderers. Among 1,063 youth under age 18, 663 (62.4%) murder offenders were African-American, 372 (35%) were white, 21 (2%) were other, and 7 (0.7%) were unknown. Among 3,845 youth under age 22, 2,321 (60.4%) were African-American, 1,403 (36.5%) were white, 82 (2.1%) were other, and 39 (1%) were unknown.

LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS KILLED . In Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2007 (October 2008, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/killed/2007/), the UCR provides statistics on the number of law enforcement officers feloniously killed between 1998 and 2007. During this 10-year period, 549 officers were killedthe highest number (70) occurred in 2001, not including the 72 deaths resulting from the terrorist attacks on September 11 of that year. In 2007, 57 officers were feloniously killed; six known offenders were juveniles under age 18. Between 1998 and 2007, 6.3% of murder offenders who killed law enforcement officers were under age 18 and 39.4% of offenders were young adults aged 18 to 24.

Rape

The UCR reports that even though there were an estimated 90,427 forcible rapes reported in 2007 (a 2.5% decrease from the previous year), only 17,132 people were arrested for rape in that year. Rape is one of the most underreported crimes, and the low arrest rate demonstrates how few perpetrators are caught. Of those actually arrested, 914 (5.3%) were under age 15 and 2,633 (15.4%) were under age 18.

Aggravated and Simple Assault

The UCR defines aggravated assault as an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault is usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or by other means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Attempted aggravated assault that involves the display ofor threat to usea gun, knife, or other weapon is included in this crime category because serious personal injury would likely result if the assault were completed. In 2007 an estimated 855,856 aggravated assaults were reported. In its arrest reports, the UCR notes that 327,137 people were arrested for aggravated assault in that year. Of that number, 13,662 (4.2%) were under age 15 and 43,459 (13.3%) were under age 18.

By contrast, simple assaults are assaults or attempted assaults not involving a weapon and not resulting in serious injury to the victim. These include acts such as assault and battery, resisting or obstructing the police, and hazing. In its arrest reports, the UCR lists a category called other assaults (to differentiate between these types of assaults and aggravated assaults). The UCR notes that 983,964 people were arrested for other assaults in 2007. Of that number, 70,038 (7.1%) were under age 15 and 181,378 (18.4%) were under age 18.

Robbery, Burglary, and Larceny-Theft

Robbery, burglary, and larceny-theft are different crimes under the UCR. Robbery is the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear, and is categorized as a violent crime. Burglary involves the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft, and is classified as a property crime. Larceny-theft, which is also a property crime, is the unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession or constructive possession of another, and includes crimes such as shoplifting, pocket-picking, purse-snatching, thefts from motor vehicles, thefts of motor vehicle parts and accessories, bicycle thefts, and so on. These offenses, taken together, are disproportionately committed by young people.

The UCR estimates that 445,125 robbery offenses had been committed in 2007, which was a small decrease (0.5%) over the previous year but represented an increase of 7.5% over robberies in 2003. In 2007, 96,720 people were arrested for robbery; those arrested were disproportionately young people. Of that number, 5,601 (5.8%) were under age 15 and 26,324 (27.2%) were under age 18.

In 2007 the UCR recorded 2,179,140 burglary offenses, a decrease of 0.2% from the previous year and a 6.6% decline from 10 years earlier. Burglary has a particularly low arrest rate. The UCR notes that 228,846 people were arrested for burglary in 2007. Of that number, 18,589 (8.1%) of perpetrators were under age 15 and 61,695 (27%) were under age 18.

The UCR recorded 6,568,572 larceny-theft offenses in 2007, a decrease of 0.6% from 2006 and an 11% decline from 10 years earlier. In its arrest reports, the UCR notes that 897,626 people were arrested for larceny-theft in 2007. Of that number, 71,314 (7.9%) of perpetrators were under age 15 and 229,837 (25.6%) were under age 18.

Motor-vehicle theft is also disproportionately perpetrated by young people, usually in urban areas. In 2007 there were 1,095,769 motor vehicle thefts nationwide. More than nine out of 10 (93.1%) motor vehicle thefts occurred in metropolitan areas. In its arrest reports, the UCR notes that 89,022 people were arrested for motor-vehicle theft in 2007. Of those arrested, 4,917 (5.5%) were under age 15 and 22,266 (25%) were under age 18.

Computer Crime

Illegally accessing a computer, known as hacking, is a crime committed frequently by juveniles. When it is followed by manipulation of the information in private, corporate, or government databases and networks, it can be quite costly. Another means of computer hacking involves the creation of what is known as a virus program. A virus

program is one that resides inside another program and is activated by some predetermined code to create havoc in the host computer. Virus programs can be spread through the sharing of disks and programs, by downloading executable files on the Internet, or, most commonly, through e-mail attachments.

Cases of juvenile hacking have been reported since the 1980s. In 1998 the U.S. Secret Service filed the first criminal case against a juvenile for a computer crime. The unnamed hacker shut down the Worcester, Massachusetts, airport in 1997 for six hours. The airport was integrated into the Federal Aviation Administration traffic system by telephone lines. The accused gained access to the communication system and disabled it by sending a series of computer commands that changed the data carried on the system. As a result, the airport could not function. (No accidents occurred during that time, however.) According to the Department of Justice, the juvenile pled guilty in return for two years probation, a fine, and community service.

Juveniles are sometimes caught hacking into school computer systems in an effort to change their grades and the grades of other students. At times, as in the case of 23 Fort Bend, Texas, students charged with hacking into the local high school's system, the monetary loss to the school system can be so large as to trigger felony charges. The hackers could have faced second-degree felony charges, carrying a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. However, the students were eventually punished by sending them to an alternative education class within the high school.

Other types of computer crime typically perpetrated by juveniles include trading stolen credit card and Social Security numbers and pirating of computer software that will be sold. Because of computer networks, juveniles and other perpetrators can commit these types of crimes on a large scale. In It's Not Just Fun and War GamesJuveniles and Computer Crime (April 26, 2005, http://www.cybercrime.gov/usamay 2001_7.htm), Joseph V. DeMarco, the assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, states that the enormous computing power of today's PCs make it possible for minors to commit offenses which are disproportionately serious to their age. Teens can commit property offenses on a large scale using computers, can portray themselves as adults in an online world, and appear to have an ethical deficit when it comes to computer crimes. He points out that children and teens who would never commit robbery, burglary, or assault may in fact commit online crimes. For example, in May 2008 a 15-year-old boy was arrested in Downington, Pennsylvania, for hacking into a school computer system and copying files including personal information and Social Security numbers of school employees. Such information could be used to perpetrate identity theft.

Juveniles convicted of computer crimes sometimes face imprisonment in juvenile detention centers. The Department of Justice reports in Massachusetts Teen Convicted for Hacking into Internet and Telephone Service Providers and Making Bomb Threats to High Schools in Massachusetts and Florida (September 8, 2005, http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/cybercrime/juvenileSentboston.htm) that in 2005 a Massachusetts juvenile pled guilty to several hacking incidents and was sentenced to 11 months in a juvenile detention facility and 2 years of supervised release, during which period he was barred from owning or using a computer, cell phone, or any electronic equipment capable of accessing the Internet.

In October 2008, 20-year-old David Kernell, a college student at the University of Tennessee, was indicted for hacking into vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's (1964) Yahoo e-mail account the previous month. The article Details Emerge in Palin E-mail Hacking (Associated Press, September 18, 2008, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26781334/) notes that the break-in to the personal e-mail account could have ramifications for the government because her administration had encouraged the use of Yahoo accounts rather than government e-mail accounts, which could possibly be released to the public under Alaska's Open Records Act. In March 2009 Kernell pleaded not guilty to three more charges in the case: fraud, unlawful electronic transmission of material outside Tennessee, and attempts to conceal records to impede an FBI investigation. He faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the felony charges.

Illegal Drug Use

Various studies show that many violent offenders are substance abusers. For some people, drugs and alcohol may cause violent tendencies to surface. Lloyd D. Johnston et al. of the Institute for Social Research find in Monitoring the Future: National Results on Adolescent Drug Use, Overview of Key Findings, 2007 (2008, http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/overview2007.pdf) that in 2007, 35.9% of 12th graders, 28.1% of 10th graders, and 13.2% of eighth graders had used an illicit drug in the past year. Among 12th graders, marijuana/hashish use was highest (31.7%), followed by narcotics (9.2%), amphetamines (7.5%), barbiturates (6.2%), and tranquilizers (6.2%). Two-thirds (66.4%) had used alcohol in the past 12 months.

Other drugs gaining popularity in recent years included so-called club drugs, such as ecstasy (MDMA), flunitrazepam (known as the date rape drug), GHB, and ketamine. These drugs have been popular among teenagers at dance clubs and raves. Because each of these club drugs is scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act (Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970), they are illegal and their use constitutes a criminal offense. Johnston et al. note that in 2007, 4.5% of high school seniors had used MDMA, 1.3% had used ketamine, 1% had used flunitrazepam, and 0.9% had used GHB in the previous 12 months.

In its arrest reports, the UCR notes that 1,386,394 people were arrested on drug abuse violations in 2007. Of that number, 21,506 (1.6%) were under age 15 and 147,382 (10.6%) were under age 18.

JUVENILE VICTIMS OF CRIME

Table 7.2 and Figure 7.1 outline the trends in nonfatal violent victimizations and homicides by select age groups

 
TABLE 7.2 Violent victimization by gender and age, 2006
  Population Number Rate*
*Victimization rates are per 1,000 persons age 12 or older or per 1,000 households.
SOURCE: Michael Rand and Shannan Catalano, Table 3. Violent Victimization, by Gender and Age, 2006, in Criminal Victimization, 2006, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2007, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cv06.pdf (accessed November 11, 2008)
Gender
Males 120,513,190 3,187,880 26.5
Females 126,777,010 2,906,850 22.9
Age
1215 16,892,570 799,610 47.3
1619 16,687,150 873,480 52.3
2024 20,397,690 891,220 43.7
2534 39,931,470 1,407,710 35.3
3549 65,886,660 1,320,800 20.0
5064 51,916,140 677,790 13.1
65 or older 35,578,530 124,120 3.5
 

between 1976 and 2006. During these years the rate of violent victimizations dropped in all age categories, but especially among young people. In Violent Victimization Rates by Age, 19732005 (September 10, 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/vagetab.htm), the BJS indicates that in 1973 the violent victimization rate for those aged 12 to 15 was 81.8 per 1,000 people in that age group. The rate peaked in 1994 at 118.6 per 1,000 people then dropped steadily to 44 per 1,000 people in 2005, its lowest point in the 32 years recorded. For those aged 16 to 19, the rate in 1973 was 81.7. This group also reached its zenith in 1994 at 123.9 and then decreased steadily to 44.3 in 2005. The highest nonfatal violent victimization rate in 1973 was among ages 20 to 24 (87.6). This age group reached its highest point in 1991 with 103.6 and then fluctuated before dropping to 43.2 in 2004; however, it had risen again to 47.1 in 2005. In 2006 the violent victimization rate for 12- to 15-year-olds was 47.3 per 1,000 people, and for 16- to 19-year-olds it was 52.3 per 1,000 people. (See Table 7.2.)

Violent crime rates are highest for young people aged 24 and younger; after age 25 the violent victimization rate declines steadily. According to the BJS, in 1973 16- to 19-year-olds were about twice as likely to be victimized by violent crime as people 35 to 49 years of age in 2005. In 2006 16- to 19-year-olds were about two and a half times as likely as 35- to 49-year-olds to be victimized by violent crime. (See Table 7.2.)

Scott Menard of the University of Colorado notes in Short- and Long-Term Consequences of Adolescent Victimization (February 2002, http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/191210.pdf) that when someone is victimized as an adolescent, long-term consequences result. When compared to adults who were not victimized as adolescents, adults who were adolescent victims are most likely to have drug problems and more likely to perpetrate violence. They are also more likely to commit acts of domestic violence and become victims of domestic violence than are adults who were not victimized as adolescents. In addition, they are nearly twice as likely to become victims of violent crime and nearly three times as likely to commit property offenses. Their risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder is also twice as great.

Becoming a victim of crime can have serious consequencesoutcomes that the victim neither asks for nor deserves. A victim rarely expects to be victimized and seldom knows where to turn for help. Victims may end up in the hospital to be treated and released, or they may be confined to bed for days, weeks, or longer. Injuries may be temporary, or they may be permanent and forever change the way the victim lives his or her life. Victims may lose money or property, or in the case of homicide their life. In many cases they lose their confidence, self-esteem, and feelings of security.

The effects of crime are not limited to the victim, however. A victim's family is frequently devastated, and

the psychological trauma may affect everyone connected to a victim. Victims and their families may experience feelings of fear, anger, shame, self-blame, helplessness, and depressionemotions that can last for years after the event. Those who were attacked in their home or whose home was entered illegally may no longer feel secure anywhere. They often blame themselves, feeling that they could have handled themselves better, or done something differently to prevent being victimized.

In the aftermath of crime, when victims most need support and comfort, there is often no one available who understands. Parents or spouses may be dealing with their own feelings of guilt and anger for not being able to protect their loved ones. Friends may withdraw, not knowing what to say or do. As a result, victims may lose their sense of self-esteem and no longer trust other people. These effects of violent victimization can be particularly devastating when the victim is a young person.

Child Abuse and Neglect

It is impossible to determine how many children suffer abuse. All observers can do is count the number of reported caseswhich include only those known to public authoritiesor they can survey families, in which case parents may deny or downplay abuse. As a result, estimates of child abuse are generally considered low. The Administration for Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF) is the primary source of national information on abused and neglected children that has been reported to state child protective services agencies.

According to the ACYF, in Child Maltreatment 2006 (2008, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm06/cm06.pdf), in 2006 an estimated 3.3 million children were alleged to have been abused or neglected and approximately 905,000 children were found to be victims of child maltreatment. Reports most often came from professional sources, such as educators (16.5%), the legal system (15.8%), social service employees (10%), and medical professionals (8.4%), and less often from nonprofessional sources, such as relatives (7.8%), parents (6%), friends and neighbors (5.3%), and a small percentage of the victims themselves (0.6%) and perpetrators (0.1%). (See Figure 7.2.)

In 2006, 64.1% of reported victims suffered neglect, 16% were physically abused, 8.8% were sexually abused,

   
TABLE 7.3 Child abuse victims by age group and maltreatment type, 2006
Age group Victims Neglect Physical abuse Medical neglect Sexual abuse Psychological abuse Other abuse Unknown Total maltreatments
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Based on data from 51 states.
SOURCE: Table 310. Victims by Age Group and Maltreatment Type, 2006, in Child Maltreatment 2006, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth and Families, 2008, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm06/cm06.pdf (accessed November 11, 2008)
Age < 1 100,139 72,314 72.2 14,328 14.3 3,629 3.6 445 0.4 3,967 4.0 16,300 16.3 1,097 1.1 112,080 111.9
Age 13 172,940 125,997 72.9 18,731 10.8 3,948 2.3 4,558 2.6 10,262 5.9 29,016 16.8 2,114 1.2 194,626 112.5
Age 47 213,194 138,886 65.1 32,697 15.3 3,843 1.8 17,539 8.2 14,555 6.8 31,833 14.9 2,570 1.2 241,923 113.5
Age 811 170,944 103,964 60.8 29,312 17.1 3,233 1.9 18,314 10.7 13,647 8.0 25,406 14.9 1,947 1.1 195,823 114.6
Age 1215 170,635 94,910 55.6 34,348 20.1 3,447 2.0 28,138 16.5 12,372 7.3 23,465 13.8 1,950 1.1 198,630 116.4
Age 16 and older 54,564 29,989 55.0 11,998 22.0 1,030 1.9 8,798 16.1 3,524 6.5 7,832 14.4 541 1.0 63,712 116.8
Unknown or missing 2,829 1,727 61.0 627 22.2 50 1.8 328 11.6 250 8.8 126 4.5 2 0.1 3,110 109.9
Total 885,245 567,787   142,041   19,180   78,120   58,577   133,978   10,221   1,009,904  
Percent     64.1   16.0   2.2   8.8   6.6   15.1   1.2   114.1

and 6.6% were emotionally or psychologically maltreated. (See Table 7.3.) The highest rate of victimization was among infants (24.4 per 1,000 children), followed by children aged one to three years (14.2 per 1,000), and children four to seven years of age (13.5 per 1,000). (See Figure 7.3.) The rate of occurrence decreased as the child's age increased.

The most tragic result of child maltreatment is death. The ACYF indicates that in 2006 an estimated 1,530 children died as a result of abuse or neglect. Children in the youngest age groups were the most likely to die of maltreatment; 78% of the children who died were three years old or younger.

The largest group of abusers were mothers acting alone (39.9%) followed by fathers acting alone (17.6%). (See Figure 7.4.) Abuse of children was overwhelmingly perpetrated by parents; only 10% of perpetrators were not parents. Parental abuse is probably the most devastating of all abuse, because child victims have absolutely no place to turn for help or support.

Missing Children

In the 1980s, as a result of several high-profile abductions and tragedies, the media focused public attention on the problem of missing children. Citizens became concerned and demanded action to address what appeared to be a national crisis. Attempting to discover the nature and

 

dimension of the problem, Congress passed the Missing Children's Assistance Act of 1984. The legislation mandated the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to conduct national incidence studies

 

to determine the number of juveniles who were victims of abduction by strangers and the number of children who were victims of parental kidnapping. The result was the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART), the first of which was conducted in 1988, with the results published in 1990. The second and more recent NISMART was conducted mainly in 1999, with many of the data published in a series of reports in October 2002.

FAMILY ABDUCTIONS . According to Heather Hammer, David Finkelhor, and Andrea J. Sedlak of the OJJDP, in Children Abducted by Family Members: National Estimates and Characteristics (October 2002, http://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/nismart/02/index.html), a family abduction is the taking or keeping of a child by a family member in violation of a custody order, a decree, or other legitimate custodial rights, where the taking or keeping involved some element of concealment, flight, or intent to deprive a lawful custodian indefinitely of custodial privileges. In 1999, 203,900 children were victims of a family abduction. About half (53%) of these were abducted by biological fathers, and 25% by biological mothers. Most family-abducted children were not missing for long 46% were gone less than a week, and only 21% were away a month or more. Nearly four out of 10 (42%) were abducted from a single-parent family. At the time the survey was done, 91% of the children had been returned, 6% had been located but not returned, and less than 1% had not been located or returned (there was no information on outcomes for 2% of cases).

NONFAMILY ABDUCTIONS . Even though far fewer children are abducted by strangers than by family members, the consequences are often far worse. Violence, the use of force or weapons, sexual assault, and murder are more prevalent in nonfamily abductions. David Finkelhor, Heather Hammer, and Andrea J. Sedlak of the OJJDP state in Nonfamily Abducted Children: National Estimates and Characteristics (October 2002, http://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/nismart/03/index.html) that 58,200 children were abducted by nonfamily members in 1999. Nearly half (46%) of these were sexually assaulted by their abductors. Only 115 of the abductions were stereotypical kidnappings, in which a child was abducted by a slight acquaintance or stranger, detained overnight, transported 50 miles or more, held for ransom or with intention to keep permanently, or killed. Most nonfamily abducted children (59%) were15to17years old and 65% were female. The perpetrators were strangers 37% of the time and were three times as likely to be male as female. Most perpetrators (67%) were aged 13 to 29. Most nonfamily abducted children (91%) were away for 24 hours or less, and 99% returned alive. The remaining 1% were either killed or had not been located at the time of the survey.

RUNAWAYS AND THROWNAWAYS . In Runaway/Thrownaway Children: National Estimates and Characteristics (October 2002, http://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/nismart/04/), Hammer, Finkelhor, and Sedlak note that runaways are children who meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • A child who leaves home without permission and stays away overnight
  • A child 14 years old (or older and mentally incompetent) who is away from home, chooses not to come home when expected to, and stays away overnight
  • A child 15 years old or older who is away from home, chooses not to come home, and stays away two nights

In the 1970s the term throwaways or thrownaways was given by researchers to juveniles who were made to leave home or were abandoned. A thrownaway child meets one of the following criteria:

  • A child who is asked or told to leave home by a parent or other household adult, with no adequate alternative care arranged for the child by a household adult, and who is out of the household overnight
  • A child who is away from home and is prevented from returning home by a parent or other household adult, with no adequate alternative care arranged for by a household adult, and who is out of the household overnight

The OJJDP now combines its estimates of runaways and thrownaways. According to Hammer, Finkelhor, and Sedlak, 1.7 million youths had a runaway/thrownaway episode in 1999. The runaway episode was thought to indicate that 1.2 million of these children were endangered in the following ways:

  • The child had been physically or sexually abused at home in the year before the episode or was afraid of abuse upon return (21%)
  • The child was substance dependent (19%)
  • The child was 13 years old or younger (18%)
  • The child was in the company of someone known to be abusing drugs (18%)
  • The child was using hard drugs (17%)

Most runaway/thrownaway youth (68%) were 15 years old or older, and half were females. Most runaways (77%) were away less than one week, and more than 99% returned. An estimated 38,600 of the runaways were at risk of sexual endangerment (assault, attempted assault, or prostitution) while away from home.

Murder Victims

According to the BJS, homicide rates for all age groups have been declining since the mid-1990s. (See Figure 7.1.) Even though violent crime has diminished, it still plays a significant role as a cause of death for youth. However, Melonie P. Heron et al. of the CDC indicate in Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2006 (National Vital Statistics Report, vol. 56, no. 16, June 11, 2008) that in 2006 the leading cause of death among both males and females under the age of 24 was accidents. Of the leading causes of death in 2006, homicides and suicides accounted for many abbreviated lives as well, and these deaths increased in number among older youth.

The homicide death rate for infants under age one was quite high at 6.8 per 100,000 in 2006. After that age, the homicide death rate declined to 2.1 per 100,000 among one- to four-year-olds and 1 per 100,000 five- to 14-year-olds. The homicide death rate rose again after age 14.

UCR data confirm that murder victims are disproportionately young people. Out of 14,831 murder victims in 2007, 1,554 victims were under age 18, including 1,070 males and 482 females. (See Table 7.4.) The number of young murder victims more than doubled when looking at all victims aged 21 and under. Of the 3,758 murder victims in this age range, 2,996 were male and 758 were female. One out of 10 (10.5%) murder victims was under age 18, and a quarter (25.3%) was under age 22.

African-Americans are also disproportionately victims of homicide. Nearly equal numbers of whites (6,948) and African-Americans (7,316) were murdered in 2007, even though whites far outnumber African-Americans in the general population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (April 30, 2008, http://www.census.gov/popest/national/asrh/NC-EST2007-asrh.html). (See Table 7.4.) Of victims under age

 
TABLE 7.4 Murder victims, by age, sex, and race, 2007
Age Total Sex Race
Male Female Unknown White Black Other Unknown
aBecause of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
bDoes not include unknown ages.
SOURCE: Expanded Homicide Data Table 2. Murder Victims by Age, Sex, and Race, 2007, in Crime in the United States, 2007, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, September 2008, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_02.html (accessed November 11, 2008)
    Total 14,831 11,618 3,177 36 6,948 7,316 345 222
Percent distributiona 100.0 78.3 21.4 0.2 46.8 49.3 2.3 1.5
Under 18b 1,554 1,070 482 2 752 740 40 22
Under 22b 3,758 2,996 758 4 1,594 2,035 80 49
18 and overb 13,013 10,367 2,641 5 6,089 6,482 301 141
Infant (under 1) 210 116 93 1 139 57 9 5
1 to 4 322 162 159 1 169 142 6 5
5 to 8 88 47 41 0 55 28 4 1
9 to 12 75 39 36 0 39 30 4 2
13 to 16 487 380 107 0 206 265 9 7
17 to 19 1,443 1,272 171 0 538 867 23 15
20 to 24 2,733 2,355 374 4 1,091 1,555 58 29
25 to 29 2,215 1,871 344 0 871 1,284 36 24
30 to 34 1,651 1,366 285 0 735 860 40 16
35 to 39 1,243 949 293 1 575 622 32 14
40 to 44 1,127 787 340 0 596 476 36 19
45 to 49 960 689 271 0 544 381 25 10
50 to 54 698 522 176 0 422 261 11 4
55 to 59 451 338 113 0 268 164 16 3
60 to 64 292 202 90 0 196 80 13 3
65 to 69 181 123 58 0 111 57 11 2
70 to 74 130 84 46 0 96 30 3 1
75 and over 261 135 126 0 190 63 5 3
Unknown 264 181 54 29 107 94 4 59

18, 752 were white and 740 were African-American. One out of 10 (10.8%) white victims as well as one out of 10 (10.1%) African-American victims were under age 18; 22.9% of white victims and 27.8% of African-American victims were under age 22. Homicide has been and is the leading cause of death for African-American teenagers, both male and female, although victimization rates for African-American teens declined dramatically between the early 1990s and 2000.

VICTIM-OFFENDER RELATIONSHIP . Snyder and Sickmund state that the most frequent killers of children under age six were their parents, whereas parents were less likely to be involved in the murder of teens aged 15 to 17, although this varied by gender of the child. (See Table 7.5.) Almost two-thirds (61%) of all female juveniles killed were murdered by a parent or stepparent, compared to only 26% of male juveniles. Half (50%) of all male juveniles killed were murdered by an acquaintance, compared to only 29% of female juveniles. Females were also less likely than males to be murdered by a stranger (3% and 18%, respectively).

The risk of being killed by a parent decreased with age62% of murder victims aged five and younger were killed by a parent or stepparent, compared to 40% of children aged six to 11, 11% of children aged 12 to 14, and 3% of children aged 15 to 17. (See Table 7.5.) The risk of being killed by an acquaintance or a stranger, however, increased with age. About a quarter (28%) of children under age six were killed by an acquaintance, compared to 66% of 15- to 17-year-olds; only 3% of the youngest children were killed by strangers, compared to 25% of 15- to 17-year-olds.

WEAPONS USED IN MURDERS OF JUVENILES . According to Snyder and Sickmund, the number of youths dying as a result of firearms increased 152% between 1985 and 1993 before declining. Even though the number of homicides involving no firearm declined very little between 1993 and 2002, a huge drop in the number of homicides involving a firearm resulted in the overall number of juvenile homicides falling to the lowest level since 1984 in 2002. Nonetheless, almost half (48%) of all juveniles murdered in 2002 were killed with a firearm. Another 22% were beaten/kicked to death or strangled, and 11% were killed with a knife or blunt object. The remaining 19% were killed with another type of weapon, or the type of weapon used was unknown.

The FBI reports that these trends continued in 2007; firearms were used in most murders of juveniles and young adults in that year. Of 1,554 murder victims under the age of 18, 806 (51.9%) were killed with firearms. (See Table 7.6.) Of 3,758 murder victims who were under the age of 22, 2,642 (70.3%) were killed with firearms. A low proportion of the youngest murder victims were killed by firearms, but that proportion rose with age. The most firearms-related murders were in the 20 to 24 age group (2,733 deaths). However, the greatest percentage of firearms-related murders was among those aged 17 to 19 (1,229 of 1,443 murders, or 85.2%). Other weapons most frequently used to kill juveniles included personal weaponshands, feet, fists, and so on, especially among the youngest childrenand knives.

Rape

For several reasons, the statistics on rape are incomplete. The crime often goes unreported. The BJS estimates that only about one-third of the cases of completed or attempted rape are ever reported to police; other organizations estimate that the proportion of reported rapes is even lower. Because its data are collected through interviews, the BJS recognizes an underreporting in its statistics as well. Acquaintance rape is far more common than stranger rape. Most experts conclude that in 80% to 85% of all rape cases, the victim knows the rapist.

 
TABLE 7.5 Offender relationship to juvenile homicide victims, by age and gender of victims, 19802002
Offender relationship to victim Age of victim Victim ages 017
017 05 611 1214 1517 Males Females
Over the 23-year period, strangers were involved in at least 15% of the murders of juveniles. This figure is probably greater than 15% because strangers are likely to account for a disproportionate share of crimes in which the offender is unknown.
Note: Detail may not total 100% because of rounding.
SOURCE: Howard N. Snyder and Melissa Sickmund, Of the 46,600 Juveniles Murdered between 1980 and 2002, Most Victims under Age 6 Were Killed by a Parent, While Parents Were Rarely Involved in the Killing of Juveniles Ages 1517, in Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, March 2006, http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/ojstatbb/nr2006/downloads/NR2006.pdf (accessed November 11, 2008)
Offender known 74% 88% 81% 72% 64% 72% 88%
    Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Parent/stepparent 31 62 40 11 3 26 61
Other family member 7 7 15 11 5 6 7
Acquaintance 47 28 30 58 66 50 29
Stranger 15 3 15 20 25 18 3
Offender unknown 26% 12% 19% 28% 36% 28% 12%
 
TABLE 7.6 Murder victims by age and weapon, 2007
Age Total murder victims Weapons
Firearms Knives or cutting instruments Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.) Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.)a Poison Explosives Fire Narcotics Strangulation Asphyxiation Other weapon or weapon not statedb
aPushed is included in personal weapons.
bIncludes drowning.
cBecause of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
dDoes not include unknown ages.
*Less than one-tenth of 1 percent.
SOURCE: Expanded Homicide Data Table 8. Murder Victims by Age, by Weapon, 2007, in Crime in the United States, 2007, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, September 2008, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_08.html (accessed November 11, 2008)
    Total 14,831 10,086 1,796 647 854 10 1 130 49 134 108 1,016
Percent distributionc 100.0 68.0 12.1 4.4 5.8 0.1 * 0.9 0.3 0.9 0.7 6.9
Under 18d 1,554 806 127 61 303 4 0 25 14 22 33 159
Under 22d 3,758 2,642 307 98 345 4 0 30 19 36 38 239
18 and overd 13,013 9,148 1,655 573 528 6 1 97 35 110 73 787
Infant (under 1) 210 9 4 9 122 0 0 3 3 4 15 41
1 to 4 322 35 9 32 143 0 0 8 6 7 10 72
5 to 8 88 35 9 4 14 1 0 6 1 4 5 9
9 to 12 75 36 11 3 8 2 0 4 1 1 1 8
13 to 16 487 376 62 8 11 1 0 3 1 3 2 20
17 to 19 1,443 1,229 110 24 22 0 0 2 6 8 1 41
20 to 24 2,733 2,234 243 45 59 1 1 8 7 13 10 112
25 to 29 2,215 1,773 206 41 51 0 0 11 2 24 10 97
30 to 34 1,651 1,254 206 35 41 0 0 17 3 10 5 80
35 to 39 1,243 821 199 64 56 1 0 6 4 7 8 77
40 to 44 1,127 697 169 73 60 0 0 17 3 16 8 84
45 to 49 960 547 175 67 61 1 0 9 2 11 9 78
50 to 54 698 360 126 57 66 1 0 6 5 6 9 62
55 to 59 451 202 85 55 39 1 0 9 0 5 0 55
60 to 64 292 129 56 43 25 0 0 2 1 0 4 32
65 to 69 181 83 33 28 11 0 0 3 0 4 0 19
70 to 74 130 62 28 9 12 0 0 3 0 0 2 14
75 and over 261 72 51 37 30 1 0 5 4 9 7 45
Unknown 264 132 14 13 23 0 0 8 0 2 2 70

The UCR defines forcible rape as the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Assaults and attempts to commit rape by force or threat of force are also included; however, statutory rape (without force) [sex with a consenting minor] and other sex offenses are excluded. Rape is a crime of violence in which the victim may suffer serious physical injury and long-term psychological pain. In 2007 the UCR recorded 90,427 reported rape offenses, a decrease of 2.5% from the year before. The rate of forcible rapes was reported at a rate of 59.1 offenses per 100,000 females.

Rape victims are disproportionately young. According to the BJS, in 2006 females aged 12 to 15 experienced the highest rates (6.4 per 1,000 people), followed by older teens aged 16 to 19 (4.3 per 1,000 people). (See Table 7.7.) Furthermore, the BJS finds that in 2006 only 33.9% of those aged 12 to 19 who acknowledged being victims of rape/sexual assault reported the incident to police. (See Table 7.8.)

Aggravated and Simple Assault

In Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2006 Statistical Tables (August 2008, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cvus06.pdf), the BJS reports that in 2006 aggravated assault was most common among young people. It occurred at a rate of 8.3 per 1,000 teens aged 12 to 15, 11.6 per 1,000 teens aged 16 to 19, and 11.9 per 1,000 teens aged 20 to 24. After that age the rate began to decline. Among white males, those aged 20 to 24 experienced the highest rate of aggravated assault (12.2 per 1,000 people), whereas among African-American males, 25- to 34-year-olds experienced the highest rate (31 per 1,000 people). (See Table 7.9.) African-American women in the 20 to 24 age group experienced the highest rate (16.1 per 1,000 people) as did white women in the 20 to 24 age group (11.7 per 1,000 people).

The BJS notes that in 2006 simple assault occurred at a rate of 31.3 per 1,000 teens aged 12 to 15, 33.1 per 1,000 teens aged 16 to 19, and 23.2 per 1,000 teens aged 20 to 24, after which the rate began to decline. Younger African-American males had a higher simple assault victimization rate than did white males in the same age group. For example, African-American males aged 16 to 19 had a simple assault rate of 46.8 per 1,000 people, compared to the rate of 26.9 among white males of that age. (See Table 7.9.)

 
TABLE 7.7 Victimization rates for persons age 12 and over, by gender and age of victims and type of crime, 2006
Gender and age Total population Rate per 1,000 persons in each age group
Crimes of violence Completed Violence Attempted/threatened violence Rape/Sexual assaulta Robbery Assault Purse snatching/pocket picking
Total With injury Without injury Total Aggravated Simple
Note: Due to changes in methodology, the 2006 national crime victimization rates are not comparable to previous years and cannot be used for yearly trend comparisons. However, the overall patterns of victimization at the national level can be examined.
Detail may not add to total shown because of rounding.
*Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases.
a Includes verbal threats of rape and threats of sexual assault.
SOURCE: Table 4. Personal Crimes, 2006: Victimization Rates for Persons Age 12 and over, by Gender and Age of Victims and Type of Crime, in Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2006 Statistical Tables, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 2008, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cvus06.pdf (accessed November 11, 2008)
Male
1215 8,693,790 47.5 17.5 30.0 0.5* 3.6* 0.8* 2.8* 43.4 9.0 34.4 1.2*
1619 8,495,570 53.7 16.2 37.5 0.7* 8.0 1.7* 6.2 45.0 14.5 30.5 1.2*
2024 10,247,690 46.8 15.9 30.9 0.0* 9.3 2.4* 6.9 37.5 11.5 25.9 1.0*
2534 20,079,860 38.2 13.9 24.2 0.3* 6.4 3.1 3.3 31.5 9.4 22.1 0.7*
3549 32,607,930 19.4 4.1 15.3 0.3* 2.1 0.3* 1.8 17.0 4.7 12.2 1.0*
5064 25,144,830 15.7 4.1 11.6 0.1* 2.1 1.2* 0.9* 13.5 3.1 10.4 0.3*
65 and over 15,196,130 5.0 1.4* 3.5 0.0* 1.4* 0.5* 0.8* 3.6 1.2* 2.4 0.1*
Female
1215 8,208,130 46.3 16.2 30.1 6.4 4.4* 1.7* 2.6* 35.5 7.5 28.0 0.5*
1619 8,185,810 49.8 17.8 31.9 4.3* 1.1* 0.7* 0.4* 44.3 8.5 35.8 0.9*
2024 10,123,690 41.6 15.9 25.7 3.6 5.3 2.9* 2.4* 32.7 12.3 20.4 0.7*
2534 19,836,350 33.8 11.5 22.4 2.5 2.7 1.1* 1.6* 28.7 6.0 22.7 0.5*
3549 33,263,020 20.0 7.4 12.6 1.0* 1.9 0.7* 1.2 17.1 4.7 12.4 0.8*
5064 26,769,110 10.9 3.8 7.1 1.0* 0.5* 0.0* 0.5* 9.4 1.9 7.5 0.5*
65 and over 20,381,170 2.1 0.7* 1.4* 0.0* 0.9* 0.1* 0.8* 1.2* 0.3* 0.9* 0.9*
 
TABLE 7.8 Percent of victimizations reported to police by type of crime and age of victims, 2006
Type of crime Percent of victimizations reported to the police
1219 2034 3549 5064 65 and over
Note: Many incident characteristics were unaffected or minimally affected by changes in methodology in the 2006 National Crime Victimization Survey. However, caution should be used in comparing 2006 rates of individual variables, particularly those with small sample sizes, to previous years.
*Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases.
aIncludes verbal threats of rape and threats of sexual assault.
SOURCE: Table 96. Personal Crimes, 2006: Percent of Victimizations Reported to the Police, by Type of Crime and Age of Victims, in Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2006 Statistical Tables, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 2008, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cvus06.pdf (accessed November 11, 2008)
All personal crimes 34.3 % 52.9 % 56.0 % 54.9 % 63.4 %
Crimes of violence 34.6 52.6 55.8 54.5 64.6
  Completed violence 54.7 62.7 74.2 61.3 69.8*
  Attempted/threatened violence 24.1 47.0 48.1 51.5 62.3
  Rape/sexual assaulta 33.9* 51.6 46.8* 44.6* 0.0*
  Robbery 40.3 58.8 62.6 60.9 74.8*
    Completed/property taken 46.9 57.6 68.5 62.9* 81.1*
      With injury 58.2* 58.3 75.2* 54.2* 100.0*
      Without injury 37.6* 57.1 65.2 74.2* 78.7*
    Attempted to take property 31.5* 61.3 43.3* 52.8* 65.8*
      With injury 100.0* 54.2* 0.0* 0.0* 100.0*
      Without injury 26.2* 64.3 43.3* 52.8* 38.6*
  Assault 34.1 51.6 55.3 54.2 59.6
    Aggravated 47.3 63.1 63.0 65.8 73.3*
      With injury 74.6 79.4 72.5 65.1* 100.0*
      Threatened with weapon 32.2 51.9 59.3 66.1 69.3*
    Simple 30.1 46.9 52.4 51.0 53.9*
      With minor injury 49.7 58.1 83.8 60.6 34.7*
      Without injury 22.4 43.3 44.6 48.3 58.0*
Purse snatching/pocket picking 17.1* 72.2* 60.2* 68.8* 56.6*

Robbery and Theft

The BJS reports in Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2006 Statistical Tables that in 2006 robbery occurred at a rate of 4 per 1,000 teens aged 12 to 15, 4.6 per 1,000 teens aged 16 to 19, and 7.3 per 1,000 teens aged 20 to 24, after which age the rate began to decline. Young males, both white and African-American, had high rates of robbery victimization. (See Table 7.9.)

 
TABLE 7.9 Violent victimization rates for persons age 12 and over, by race, gender, and age of victims and type of crime, 2006
Race, gender, and age Total population Rate per 1,000 persons in each age group
Crimes of violencea Robbery Aggravated assault Simple assault
Number Rate Number Rate Number Rate Number Rate
Note: Due to changes in methodology, the 2006 national crime victimization rates are not comparable to previous years and cannot be used for yearly trend comparisons. However, the overall patterns of victimization at the national level can be examined.
Excludes data on persons of Other races and persons indicating two or more races.
*Estimate is based on 10 or fewer sample cases.
aIncludes data on rape and sexual assault, not shown separately.
SOURCE: Table 10. Violent Crimes, 2006: Number of Victimizations and Victimization Rates for Persons Age 12 and over, by Race, Gender, and Age of Victims and Type of Crime, in Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2006 Statistical Tables, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 2008, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cvus06.pdf (accessed November 11, 2008)
White only
Male
    1215 6,544,640 306,470 46.8 31,600* 4.8* 53,060 8.1 217,830 33.3
    1619 6,580,880 321,020 48.8 52,750 8.0 85,300 13.0 177,050 26.9
    2024 8,236,420 418,000 50.8 80,380 9.8 100,800 12.2 236,810 28.8
    2534 16,004,580 546,800 34.2 96,530 6.0 83,300 5.2 361,560 22.6
    3549 26,889,110 536,880 20.0 58,220 2.2 119,560 4.4 348,990 13.0
    5064 21,404,540 341,850 16.0 46,180 2.2 69,610 3.3 223,510 10.4
    65 and over 13,341,160 72,250 5.4 20,600* 1.5* 17,770* 1.3* 33,880* 2.5*
Female
    1215 6,258,480 285,930 45.7 29,510* 4.7* 46,790 7.5 173,950 27.8
    1619 6,245,950 302,620 48.5 3,120* 0.5* 40,130 6.4 233,470 37.4
    2024 7,810,160 318,080 40.7 39,900 5.1 91,660 11.7 161,160 20.6
    2534 15,364,100 483,600 31.5 30,460* 2.0* 76,890 5.0 334,710 21.8
    3549 26,640,800 484,440 18.2 46,190 1.7 102,770 3.9 302,160 11.3
    5064 22,337,200 249,060 11.1 10,550* 0.5* 40,930 1.8 175,760 7.9
    65 and over 17,689,080 30,490* 1.7* 10,850* 0.6* 5,410* 0.3* 14,230* 0.8*
Black only
Male
    1215 1,453,470 69,890 48.1 0* 0.0* 11,960* 8.2* 57,930 39.9
    1619 1,269,160 95,000 74.9 9,420* 7.4* 26,230* 20.7* 59,350 46.8
    2024 1,194,640 48,730 40.8 15,240* 12.8* 4,460* 3.7* 29,030* 24.3*
    2534 2,475,000 150,390 60.8 15,320* 6.2* 76,670 31.0 58,410 23.6
    3549 3,706,580 65,820 17.8 10,240* 2.8* 34,990* 9.4* 20,580* 5.6*
    5064 2,440,920 39,230 16.1 6,510* 2.7* 7,930* 3.3* 24,790* 10.2*
    65 and over 1,146,260 3,300* 2.9* 0* 0.0* 0* 0.0* 3,300* 2.9*
Female
    1215 1,318,550 66,710 50.6 6,270* 4.8* 6,870* 5.2* 36,420* 27.6*
    1619 1,256,840 69,220 55.1 5,970* 4.8* 16,450* 13.1* 37,330 29.7
    2024 1,487,560 69,860 47.0 7,900* 5.3* 23,920* 16.1* 35,360* 23.8*
    2534 2,912,690 130,230 44.7 22,790* 7.8* 36,560 12.6 66,460 22.8
    3549 4,436,600 115,040 25.9 5,430* 1.2* 34,940* 7.9* 74,680 16.8
    5064 3,037,860 30,090* 9.9* 3,530* 1.2* 8,120* 2.7* 18,440* 6.1*
    65 and over 1,836,090 8,960* 4.9* 4,250* 2.3* 0* 0.0* 4,700* 2.6*

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"Juvenile Crime and Victimization." Growing Up: Issues Affecting America's Youth. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Juvenile Crime and Victimization." Growing Up: Issues Affecting America's Youth. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. (July 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-1335600013.html

"Juvenile Crime and Victimization." Growing Up: Issues Affecting America's Youth. 2009. Retrieved July 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-1335600013.html

Juvenile Crime and Victimization

Chapter 7
Juvenile Crime and Victimization

THE UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS AND THE NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMIZATION SURVEY

Two main government sources collect crime statistics. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) compiles the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) annually. The FBI reports in Crime in the United States 2005 (September 2006, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/index.html) that the UCR, which was begun in 1930, now collects data from nearly seventeen thousand city, county, and state law enforcement agencies.

The second set of crime statistics is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which is prepared by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Established in 1972, the survey is an annual federal statistical study that measures the levels of victimization resulting from criminal activity in the United States. The BJS notes in "BJS Criminal Victimization Data Collections" (December 10, 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cvict.htm#Programs) that the survey collects data from a nationally representative sample of 77,200 households each year, which contain about 134,000 people, on the "frequency, characteristics and consequences of criminal victimization." The survey was previously known as the National Crime Survey, but it was renamed and redesigned in 1992 to emphasize the measurement of victimization experienced by citizens. The survey was created because of a concern that the UCR did not fully portray the true volume of crime. The UCR provides data on crimes reported to law enforcement authorities, but it does not estimate how many crimes went unreported.

The NCVS is designed to complement the UCR. It measures the levels of criminal victimization of people and households for the crimes of rape, robbery, assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and larceny. Murder is not included because the NCVS data are gathered through interviews with victims. Definitions for these crimes are the same as those established by the UCR.

Some observers believe the NCVS is a better indicator of the volume of crime in the United States than the UCR. Nonetheless, like all surveys, it is subject to error. The survey depends on people's memories of incidents that happened up to six months earlier. Many times, a victim is not sure what happened, even moments after the crime occurred. In addition, the NCVS limits the data to victims aged twelve and older, an admittedly arbitrary age selection.

CRIME TRENDS

Violent and Property Crimes

Shannan M. Catalano of the NCVS reports in Criminal Victimization, 2005 (September 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cv05.pdf) that in 2005 U.S. residents experienced about 23 million violent and property victimizations. Of these crimes, 18 million were property crimes (burglary, motor vehicle theft, and theft), 5.2 million were violent crimes (rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault), and 227,000 were personal thefts (pocket picking and purse snatching). The rate of theft was down from the year before, but the rate of every other type of crime remained unchanged.

Catalano notes that between 2002 and 2003 and between 2004 and 2005 the average yearly rate of violent crimes per 1,000 people aged twelve or older remained essentially unchanged for all age groups except for sixteen-to nineteen-year-olds. Among this age group, 55.6 per 1,000 people were victims of violent crimes between 2002 and 2003; this rate declined to 45 per 1,000 people between 2004 and 2005, a 19% decrease. Even though violent crimes for the most part remained stable between 2004 and 2005, between 1993 and 2005 the violent crime rate was down 58%.

The UCR reports that most violent crimes—including murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault—remained fairly steady between 2004 and 2005, except for forcible rape, which decreased 1.2% between 2004 and 2005. The UCR also records decreasing violent crime rates over time. The violent crime rate had decreased from 620.1 per 100,000 people in 1986 to 469.2 per 100,000 in 2005.

According to the UCR, there were an estimated 10.2 million property crimes, including burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft, in 2005. Property crime rates decreased by 1.5% between 2004 and 2005. This decline continued a long-term trend; property crime rates in 2005 were down 13.9% from 1996. In 2005 the property crime rate was 3,429.8 per 100,000 people, compared with a rate of 4,881.8 per 100,000 in 1986.

Trends in Juvenile Crime

According to the FBI, from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s youth violence and crime grew at rapid rates. In Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report (March 2006, http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/ojstatbb/nr2006/downloads/NR2006.pdf), Howard N. Snyder and Melissa Sickmund of the National Center for Juvenile Justice examine juvenile homicide trends. They find that between 1980 and 1997 murders by juveniles were highest in 1993 and 1994. In murders involving juvenile offenders during this eighteen-year span, most involved a lone offender, but 39% featured two or more offenders.

The surge in youth crime and violence caused much concern in society. Various groups—both public and private—undertook the mission of trying to uncover the reasons juvenile crime was on the rise. Lawmakers responded by toughening existing laws and finding ways to try more juveniles as adults. Courts levied stricter sentences, and parents and educators looked into various programs and methods geared to help their children and students deal with the situation.

However, the rise in juvenile crime did not last. Snyder and Sickmund note that in the ten-year period between 1994 and 2003, juvenile arrests decreased by 18%, compared with a 1% increase in arrests of adults during the same period. The arrest rate of juveniles for murder in 2003 was the lowest since at least 1980. Snyder and Sickmund state that "the juvenile violent crime wave predicted by some in the mid-1990s has not occurred."

JUVENILE OFFENDERS

For some young people, their teenage and young adult years are difficult and challenging times. Even though their peers are playing baseball, going to proms, singing in the school choir, heading to college, and making plans for the future, some juveniles and youths are, for whatever reason, committing crimes. When dealing with young offenders, each state has its own definition of the term juvenile: Most states put the upper age limit at seventeen years old, although some states set it as low as fourteen years old. When reporting its national crime statistics, the FBI considers those under the age of eighteen to be juveniles. The FBI often breaks its juvenile crime statistics into age-based subcategories, such as age sixteen or older and age fifteen or younger, to demonstrate how juvenile offenses vary with age. The FBI does the same with youth, who are often defined as ages eighteen to twenty-four. However, some organizations and studies classify youth age ranges differently, citing youths as those ages eighteen to twenty-one or ages eighteen to twenty-five.

The U.S. Department of Justice defines crime as all behaviors and acts for which society provides formally approved punishments. Written law, both federal and state, defines which behaviors are criminal and which are not. Some behaviors—murder, robbery, and burglary—have always been considered criminal. Other actions, such as domestic violence or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, became classified as criminal actions more recently. Other changes in society have also influenced crime. For example, the widespread use of computers provides new opportunities for white-collar cybercrime, including identity theft and the malicious spread of computer viruses and worms.

Crime can range from actions as simple as taking a candy bar from a store without paying for it, to those as severe and violent as murder. Most people have broken some law, wittingly or unwittingly, at some time in their lives. Therefore, the true extent of criminality is impossible to measure. Researchers can only keep records of what is reported by victims or known to the police.

Risk Factors for Youth Violence

Various government entities, schools, student and parent organizations, and research groups have devoted countless hours to the issue of youth violence. One of their goals is to find ways to recognize the potential for violent behavior in youth before it becomes a serious problem. They work individually and sometimes collectively to outline trends in youth violence and to determine what factors lead to violent behavior.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in "Youth Violence: Fact Sheet" (April 19, 2007, http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/yvfacts.htm), outlines risk factors that increase the likelihood that a young person will become violent. These factors include individual risk factors, such as a history of violent victimization, certain mental health problems, substance abuse, emotional distress, and exposure to violence within the family; family risk factors, including parenting styles that are authoritarian, harsh, inconsistent, lax, or parental substance abuse or criminality; peer/school risk factors, including involvement in gangs or with delinquent peers, social rejection, and poor school performance; and community risk factors, including a high concentration of poverty, family disruption, transiency, and social disorganization. Factors that make it less likely that a young person will engage in criminal or violent behavior (protective factors) include intelligence, positive social interactions, connectedness to family and other adults, consistent parental involvement, and a commitment to school.

In "Warning Signs of Youth Violence" (2004, http://www.apahelpcenter.org/featuredtopics/feature.php?id=38&ch=3), the American Psychological Association lists immediate signs that youth violence is a serious possibility as well as signs over a period of time that indicate a potential for violence. Signs that violence may be imminent include a frequent loss of temper or physical fighting, vandalism, an increase in substance use or risk-taking behavior, development of plans to commit violence, enjoying hurting animals, or carrying a weapon. The potential for violence exists when a young person has a history of aggressive behavior or substance abuse, has a strong desire to be in a gang or gang membership, has a fascination with weapons, begins to withdraw from friends and usual activities, performs poorly in school, fails to respect the feelings or rights of others, or has a history of discipline problems.

In response to the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, the U.S. Surgeon General began a comprehensive study of the status of youth and violence in the nation. Issued in 2001, Youth Violence: A Report of theSurgeon General (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/youthviolence/) addresses many aspects of crime and violence, including risk factors for violence among youth aged fifteen to eighteen. The report contains detailed information on early onset factors (ages six to eleven), which include exposure to violence on television and substance abuse, as well as late onset factors (ages twelve to fourteen), which include aggression in general, antisocial attitudes, and abusive parents.

Those involved in the study of youth violence are quick to point out, however, that people need to be cautious when reacting to someone exhibiting warning signs. Although it is important to provide help to youth with violent tendencies, harm could be caused by mislabeling a student as being violent or by overreacting to a set of circumstances.

Juvenile violent behavior is more likely to occur at certain times of day than at other times. Snyder and Sickmund find that violent crime, including murder, violent sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault, is most likely to be committed in the after school hours on school days for juvenile offenders, peaking around 3 p.m. In comparison, adult offenders are most likely to commit violent crimes between 9 p.m. and midnight. (See Figure 7.1.) These findings point out the relative ineffectiveness of some measures meant to curtail youth violence, especially the adoption of curfews. (See Chapter 10.)

Homicide

The UCR defines murder and nonnegligent manslaughter as "the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another." The figures do not include "deaths caused by negligence, suicide, or accident; justifiable homicides; and attempts to murder or assaults to murder, which are scored as aggravated assaults." According to the UCR, approximately 16,692 murders occurred in 2005. Although this represented a 3.4% increase from 2004, murders were down about 15% in the United States since 1996.

Over 17,000 people were identified as murder offenders in 2005, including 866 males and 76 females under the age of eighteen, and 3,322 males and 284 females under the age of twenty-two. (See Table 7.1.) Because the identity of all murder offenders is not known, such figures are lower than they would be if all offenders had been identified. Those under age eighteen represented only 6% of all murder offenders in that year, whereas those under age twenty-two represented 21% of all murder offenders. Fewer than one out of ten of all known murderers were female; 92% of all murder offenders under age eighteen and 92% of all murder offenders under age twenty-two were males. Arrests of youth under age eighteen for murder rose 19.9% between 2004 and 2005.

TABLE 7.1
Murder offenders by age, sex, and race, 2005
Age Total Sex Race
Male Female Unknown White Black Other Unknown
aBecause of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
bDoes not include unknown ages.
Source: "Expanded Homicide Data Table 3. Murder Offenders by Age, Sex, and Race, 2005," in Crime in the United States 2005, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, September 2006, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_03.html (accessed March 2, 2007)
   Total 17,029 11,117 1,246 4,666 5,452 6,379 299 4,899
Percent distributiona10065.37.327.43237.6228.8
Under 18b944866762356552315
Under 22b3,6113,32228451,3822,08411530
18 and overb10,3549,1951,141184,9115,046258139
Infant (under 1)00000000
1 to 400000000
5 to 800000000
9 to 12117406500
13 to 16467426410176272172
17 to 191,8011,67612326541,0755913
20 to 243,0162,75126231,2431,6578036
25 to 291,9351,72720628591,0054427
30 to 341,09093315615315182615
35 to 3987375012304913482014
40 to 447006059504042701214
45 to 49586486973361206136
50 to 54330286413197114118
55 to 592001703001296551
60 to 6410082180722701
65 to 69787080611520
70 to 74433580331000
75 and over685756501107
Unknown5,7311,056294,646185781104,755

In 2005, 32% of all murderers were known to be white, over 37% were African-American, and almost 29% were of unknown race. (See Table 7.1.) These proportions were similar for juvenile murderers. Among youth under age eighteen, 552 murder offenders were African-American (58%), 356 were white (38%), and 5 were unknown (0.5%). Among youth under age twenty-two, 2,084 were African-American (58%), 1,382 were white (38%), and 30 were unknown (0.8%).

LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS KILLED

In Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2005 (October 2006, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/killed/2005/), the UCR provides statistics on the number of law enforcement officers feloniously killed between 1996 and 2005. During this ten-year period 662 officers were killed—the highest number (85) occurred in 1996. In 2005, 57 officers were feloniously killed. Youth under age eighteen were responsible for 6% of the officers killed in the decade, whereas young adults aged eighteen to twenty-four were responsible for over a third (38.9%) of the murders.

Rape

The UCR reports in Crime in the United States 2005 that even though there were an estimated 93,934 forcible rapes reported in 2005, only 18,733 people were arrested for rape in that year. Rape is one of the most underreported crimes, and the low arrest rate demonstrates how few perpetrators are caught. Of those arrested for rape, 5.6% were under age fifteen, 15.4% were under age eighteen, and 29.8% were under age twenty-one.

Aggravated and Simple Assault

The UCR defines aggravated assault as "an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury…. This type of assault is usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or by other means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Attempted aggravated assault that involves the display of—or threat to use—a gun, knife, or other weapon is included in this crime category because serious personal injury would likely result if the assault were completed." In 2005 an estimated 862,947 aggravated assaults were reported. In its arrest reports, the UCR notes that 331,469 people were arrested for aggravated assault in that year. Of that number, 4.7% were under age fifteen, 13.6% were under age eighteen, and 24.8% were under age twenty-one.

By contrast, simple assaults are assaults or attempted assaults not involving a weapon and not resulting in serious injury to the victim. These include acts such as assault and battery, resisting or obstructing the police, hazing, and so on. In its arrest reports, the UCR lists a category called "other assaults" (to differentiate between these types of assaults and aggravated assaults). The UCR notes that 958,477 people were arrested for other assaults in 2005. Of that number, 7.8% were under age fifteen, 19% were under age eighteen, and 28.7% were under age twenty-one.

Robbery, Burglary, and Theft

Robbery, burglary, and larceny-theft are different crimes under the UCR. Robbery is the taking of something from a person or people with force, the threat of force, or by instilling fear in a victim. Burglary involves the unlawful entry, not requiring force, into a building to commit a felony or theft. Larceny-theft is the unlawful taking of property without using force, including crimes such as shoplifting, pocket picking, purse snatching, thefts from motor vehicles, thefts of motor vehicle parts and accessories, bicycle thefts, and so on. These offenses, taken together, are disproportionately committed by young people.

In 2005 the UCR estimates that 417,122 robbery offenses had been committed, an increase of 3.9% over the previous year. However, robbery offenses had decreased by 22.1% from ten years earlier. In 2005, 85,309 people were arrested for robbery; those arrested were disproportionately young people. Of that number, 5.8% were under age fifteen, 25.2% were under age eighteen, and 46.3% were under age twenty-one.

In 2005 the UCR recorded 2,154,126 burglary offenses, an increase of 0.5% from the previous year but a 14.1% decline from ten years earlier. Burglary has a particularly low arrest rate. The UCR notes that 220,391 people were arrested for burglary in 2005. Of that number, 8.7% of perpetrators were under age fifteen, 26.1% were under age eighteen, and 43.9% were under age twenty-one.

In 2005 the UCR recorded 6.8 million larceny-theft offenses, a decrease of 2.3% from 2004 and a 14.3% decline from ten years earlier. In its arrest reports, the UCR notes that 854,856 people were arrested for larceny-theft in 2005. Of that number, 9% of perpetrators were under age fifteen, 25.7% were under age eighteen, and 40.2% were under age twenty-one.

Motor-vehicle theft is also disproportionately perpetrated by young people, usually in urban areas. In 2005 there were an estimated 1.2 million motor vehicle thefts nationwide. More than nine out of ten (93.3%) motor vehicle thefts occurred in metropolitan areas. In its arrest reports, the UCR notes that 108,301 people were arrested for motor-vehicle theft in 2005. Of those arrested, 5.9% were under age fifteen, 25.5% were under age eighteen, and 42.8% were under age twenty-one.

Computer Crime

Illegally accessing a computer, known as hacking, is a crime committed frequently by juveniles. When it is followed by manipulation of the information of private, corporate, or government databases and networks, it can be quite costly. Another means of computer hacking involves creation of what is known as a virus program. The virus program is one that resides inside another program and then is activated by some predetermined code to create havoc in the host computer. Virus programs can be spread either through the sharing of disks and programs or through e-mail.

Cases of juvenile hacking have been reported since the 1980s. In 1998 the U.S. Secret Service filed the first criminal case against a juvenile for a computer crime. The unnamed hacker shut down the Worcester, Massachusetts, airport in 1997 for six hours. The airport was integrated into the Federal Aviation Administration traffic system by telephone lines. The accused gained access to the communication system and disabled it by sending a series of computer commands that changed the data carried on the system. As a result, the airport could not function. (No accidents occurred during that time, however.) According to the Department of Justice, the juvenile pled guilty in return for two years' probation, a fine, and community service.

Other types of computer crime typically perpetrated by juveniles include trading stolen credit card numbers and pirating of computer software to be sold. Because of computer networks, juveniles and other perpetrators can commit these types of crimes on a large scale. In "It's Not Just Fun and 'War Games'—Juveniles and Computer Crime" (April 26, 2005, http://www.cybercrime.gov/usamay2001_7.htm), Joseph V. DeMarco, the assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, states that "the enormous computing power of today's PCs make it possible for minors to commit offenses which are disproportionately serious to their age." Teens can commit property offenses on a large scale using computers, can portray themselves as adults in an online world, and "appear to have an ethical 'deficit' when it comes to computer crimes." He points out that children and teens who would never commit robbery, burglary, or assault may in fact commit online crimes.

Illegal Drug Use

Various studies show that many violent offenders are substance abusers. For some people, drugs and alcohol may cause violent tendencies to surface. In Monitoring the Future: National Results on Adolescent Drug Use, Overview of Key Findings, 2005 (April 2006, http://www.drugabuse.gov/PDF/overview2005.pdf), University of Michigan researchers Lloyd D. Johnston et al. find that in 2005, 38.4% of twelfth graders, 29.8% of tenth graders, and 15.5% of eighth graders had used an illicit drug in the past year. Among twelfth graders, marijuana/hashish use was highest (33.6%), followed by narcotics (9%), amphetamines (8.6%), barbiturates (7.2%), and tranquilizers (6.8%). (See Table 4.11 in Chapter 4.) More than two-thirds (68.6%) had used alcohol in the past twelve months.

Other drugs gaining popularity in recent years included so-called club drugs, such as ecstasy (MDMA), flunitrazepam (known as the date-rape drug), GHB, and ketamine. These drugs have been popular among teenagers at dance clubs and raves. Because each of these club drugs is scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act (Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970), they are illegal and their use constitutes a criminal offense. In 2005, 3% of high school seniors had used MDMA in the previous twelve months. (See Table 4.11 in Chapter 4.)

In its arrest reports, the UCR notes that nearly 1.4 million people were arrested on drug abuse violations in 2005. Of that number, 1.7% were under age fifteen, 10.4% were under age eighteen, and 27.7% were under age twenty-one.

JUVENILE VICTIMS OF CRIME

Figure 7.2 and Figure 7.3 outline the trends in non-fatal violent victimizations and homicides by select age groups from about the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s. Between 1973 and 2005 the rate of violent victimizations dropped in all age categories, but especially among young people. In 1973 the violent victimization rate for those aged twelve to fifteen was 81.8 per 1,000 people in that age group. The rate peaked in 1994 at 118.6 per 1,000, then dropped steadily to 44 per 1,000 in 2005, its lowest point in the thirty-two years recorded. For those ages sixteen to nineteen, the rate in 1973 was 81.7. That group also reached its zenith in 1994 at 123.9 and then decreased steadily to 44.3 in 2005. The highest nonfatal violent victimization rate in 1973 was among twenty- to twenty-four-year-olds (87.6). This age group reached its highest point in 1991 at 103.6 and then fluctuated before dropping to 43.2 in 2004; however, it had risen again to 47.1 in 2005.

According to James Alan Fox and Marianne W. Zawitz, in Homicide Trends in the United States (June 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/teens.htm), violent crime rates are highest for young people aged twenty-four and younger; after age twenty-five the violent victimization rate declines steadily. In 1973 sixteen-to nineteen-year-olds were about twice as likely to be victimized by violent crime as people thirty-five to forty-nine years of age; in 2005, they were about two and a half times as likely.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) notes that when someone is victimized as an adolescent, long-term consequences result. When compared with adults who were not victimized as adolescents, adults who were adolescent victims are most likely to have drug problems and more likely to perpetrate violence. (See Figure 7.4.) They are also more likely to commit acts of domestic violence and become victims of domestic violence than are adults who were not victimized as adolescents. In addition, they are nearly twice as likely to become victims of violent crime and nearly three times as likely to commit property offenses. Their risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder is also twice as great.

Becoming a victim of crime can have serious consequences—outcomes that the victim neither asks for nor deserves. A victim rarely expects to be victimized and seldom knows where to turn for help. Victims may end up in the hospital to be treated and released, or they may be confined to bed for days, weeks, or longer. Injuries may be temporary, or they may be permanent and forever change the way the victim lives his or her life. Victims may lose money or property, or in the case of homicide may lose their lives. In many cases they lose their confidence, self-esteem, and feelings of security.

The effects of crime are not limited to the victim, however. A victim's family is frequently devastated, and the psychological trauma may affect everyone connected to a victim. Victims and their families may experience feelings of fear, anger, shame, self-blame, helplessness, and depression—emotions that can scar life and health for years after the event. Those who were attacked in their home or whose home was entered illegally may no longer feel secure anywhere. They often blame themselves, feeling that they could have handled themselves better, or done something differently to prevent being victimized.

In the aftermath of crime, when victims most need support and comfort, there is often no one available who understands. Parents or spouses may be dealing with their own feelings of guilt and anger for not being able to protect their loved ones. Friends may withdraw, not knowing what to say or do. As a result, victims may lose their sense of self-esteem and no longer trust other people. These effects of violent victimization can be particularly devastating when the victim is a young person.

Child Abuse and Neglect

It is impossible to determine how many children suffer abuse. All observers can do is count the number of reported cases—which include only those known to public authorities—or they can survey families, in which case parents may deny or downplay abuse. As a result, estimates of child abuse are generally considered low. The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System and its annual report, Child Maltreatment, is the primary source of national information on abused and neglected children that has been reported to state child protective services agencies.

Child Maltreatment 2004 (2006, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm04/cm04.pdf) reports that in 2004 an estimated three million children were alleged to have been abused or neglected and approximately 872,000 children were found to be victims of child maltreatment. Reports most often came from professional sources (such as educators), the legal system, social service employees, and medical professionals, and less often from nonprofessional sources, such as relatives, friends, neighbors, parents, the victims themselves, and a small percentage of perpetrators. (See Figure 7.5.)

In 2004, 62.4% of reported victims suffered neglect; 17.5% were physically abused; 9.7% were sexually abused; and 7% were emotionally or psychologically maltreated. (Figure 7.6 shows victimization rates for each group per 1,000 children.) The highest rate of victimization was among children three years of age or younger (16.1 per 1,000), followed by children four to seven years of age (13.4 per 1,000). (See Figure 7.7.) The rate of occurrence decreased as the child's age increased.

The most tragic result of child maltreatment is death. In 2004 an estimated 1,490 children died as a result of abuse or neglect. Children in the youngest age groups were most likely to die of maltreatment; 81% of the children who died were three years old or younger.

The largest group of abusers were mothers acting alone (38.8%), followed by fathers acting alone (18.3%). (See Figure 7.8.) Abuse of children was overwhelmingly perpetrated by parents; only 10.1% of perpetrators were not parents. Parental abuse is probably the most devastating of all abuse, as child victims have absolutely no place to turn for help or support.

Missing Children

In the 1980s, as a result of several high-profile abductions and tragedies, the media focused public attention on the problem of missing children. Citizens became concerned and demanded action to address what appeared to be a national crisis. Attempting to discover the nature and dimension of the problem, Congress passed the 1984 Missing Children's Assistance Act. The legislation mandated the OJJDP to conduct national incidence studies to determine the number of juveniles who were "victims of abduction by strangers" and the number of children who were victims of "parental kidnapping." The result was the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART), the first of which was conducted in 1988, with the results published in 1990. The second, more recent NISMART was conducted mainly in 1999, with most of the data published in a series of October 2002 reports.

FAMILY ABDUCTIONS

According to Heather Hammer, David Finkelhor, and Andrea J. Sedlak, in Children Abducted by Family Members: National Estimates and Characteristics (October 2002, http://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/nismart/02/index.html), a family abduction is "the taking or keeping of a child by a family member in violation of a custody order, a decree, or other legitimate custodial rights, where the taking or keeping involved some element of concealment, flight, or intent to deprive a lawful custodian indefinitely of custodial privileges." In 1999, 203,900 children were victims of a family abduction. About half of these (53%) were abducted by biological fathers, and 25% by biological mothers. Most family abducted children were not missing for long—46% were gone less than a week, and only 21% were away a month or more. Nearly half (42%) were abducted from a single-parent family. At the time the survey was done, 91% of the children had been returned, 6% had been located but not returned, and less than 1% had not been located or returned (there was no information on outcomes for 2% of cases).

NONFAMILY ABDUCTIONS

Although far fewer children are abducted by strangers than by family members, the consequences are often far worse. Violence, the use of force or weapons, sexual assault, and murder are more prevalent in nonfamily abductions. According to David Finkelhor, Heather Hammer, and Andrea J. Sedlak, in Nonfamily Abducted Children: National Estimates and Characteristics (October 2002, http://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/nismart/03/index.html), 58,200 children were abducted by nonfamily members in 1999. Nearly half (46%) of these were sexually assaulted by their abductors. Only 115 of the abductions were "stereotypical kidnappings," in which a child was abducted by a slight acquaintance or stranger, detained overnight, transported fifty miles or more, held for ransom or with intention to keep permanently, or killed. Most nonfamily abducted children (59%) were fifteen to seventeen years old and 65% were female. The perpetrators were strangers 37% of the time and were three times as likely to be male as female. Most perpetrators (67%) were aged thirteen to twenty-nine. Most nonfamily abducted children (91%) were away for twenty-four hours or less, and 99% returned alive. The remaining 1% were either killed or had not been located at the time of the survey.

RUNAWAYS AND THROWNAWAYS

Heather Hammer, David Finkelhor, and Andrea J. Sedlak note in Runaway/Thrownaway Children: National Estimates and Characteristics (October 2002, http://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/nismart/04/) that runaways are children who meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • A child who leaves home without permission and stays away overnight
  • A child fourteen years old (or older and mentally incompetent) who is away from home who chooses not to come home when expected to and who stays away overnight
  • A child fifteen years old or older who is away from home who chooses not to come home and stays away two nights

In the 1970s the term throwaways or thrownaways was used by researchers for juveniles who were made to leave home or were abandoned. A thrownaway child meets one of the following criteria:

  • A child who is asked or told to leave home by a parent or other household adult, with no adequate alternative care arranged for the child by a household adult, and who is out of the household overnight
  • A child who is away from home who is prevented from returning home by a parent or other household adult, with no adequate alternative care arranged for by a household adult, and who is out of the household overnight

The OJJDP now combines its estimates of runaways and thrownaways. According to Hammer, Finkelhor, and Sedlak in Runaway/Thrownaway Children, in 1999, 1.7 million youths had a runaway/thrownaway episode. The runaway episode was thought to indicate that 1.2 million of these children were endangered in the following ways:

  • The child had been physically or sexually abused at home in the year before the episode or was afraid of abuse upon return (21%).
  • The child was substance dependent (19%).
  • The child was thirteen years old or younger (18%).
  • The child was in the company of someone known to be abusing drugs (18%).
  • The child was using hard drugs (17%).

Most runaway/thrownaway youth (68%) were fifteen years old or older; half were females and half were males. Most runaways (77%) were away less than one week, and more than 99% returned. An estimated 38,600 of the runaways were at risk of sexual endangerment—assault, attempted assault, or prostitution—while away from home.

Murder Victims

According to the BJS, homicide rates for all age groups have been declining since the mid-1990s. (See Figure 7.3.) Although violent crime has diminished, it still plays a significant role as a cause of death for youth. In 2003, however, the leading cause of death among both males and females under the age of twenty-four was accidents. Of the leading causes of death, homicides and suicides accounted for many abbreviated lives as well, and these deaths increase in number among older youth. (See Table 7.2.)

In 2003 the homicide death rate for infants under age one was quite high at 8.5 per 100,000. After that age, the homicide death rate declined to 2.4 per 100,000 among one-to four-year-olds and 0.8 per 100,000 five- to fourteen-year-olds. The homicide death rate rose again after age fourteen; the homicide death rate was 13 per 100,000 for fifteen- to twenty-four-year-olds, higher than any other age group. (See Table 7.2.)

UCR data confirm that murder victims are disproportionately young people. Out of 14,860 murder victims in 2005, 1,446 victims were under age eighteen, including 1,019 males and 422 females. (See Table 7.3.) The number of murder victims more than doubled for those under age twenty-two. Of the 3,605 murder victims in this age range, 2,912 were male and 688 were female. Even though nearly one out of ten (9.7%) murder victims was under age eighteen, almost a quarter (24.3%) was under age twenty-two.

African-Americans are also disproportionately victims of homicide. Nearly equal numbers of whites (7,133) and African-Americans (7,125) were murdered in 2005, even though whites far outnumber African-Americans in the general population. (See Table 7.3.) Of victims under age eighteen, 716 were white and 670 were African-American. Of victims under age twenty-two, 1,599 were white and 1,860 were African-American. African-American and white murder victims under age eighteen each represented approximately 10% of the total, whereas white victims under age twenty-two encompassed 22.4% of the total white victims and African-American victims under age twenty-two were 26.1% of the total African-American victims. Homicide has been and is the leading cause of death for African-American teenagers, both male and female, although victimization rates for African-American teens declined dramatically between the early 1990s and 2000.

TABLE 7.2
Death rates by age for the 15 leading causes of death, 2003
[Rates on an annual basis per 100,000 population in specified group; age-adjusted rates per 100,000 U.S. standard population. Rates are based on populations enumerated as of April 1 for 2000 and estimated as of July 1 for all other years.]
Cause of death Age
All ages aUnder 1 year b1-4 years 5-14 years 15-24 years 25-34 years 35-44 years 45-54 years 55-64 years 65-74 years 75-84 years 85 years and over Age-adjusted rate c
*Figure does not meet standards of reliability or precision.
—Category not applicable.
aFigures for age not stated included in "all ages" but not distributed among age groups.
bDeath rates for "under 1 year" (based on population estimates) differ from infant mortality rates (based on live births).
cFor method of computation.
Source: Adapted from Donna L. Hoyert et al., "Table 9. Death Rates by Age and Age-Adjusted Death Rates for the 15 Leading Causes of Death in 2003: United States, 1999–2003," in "Deaths: Final Data for 2003," National Vital Statistics Reports, vol. 54, no. 3, April 19, 2006, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr54/nvsr54_13.pdf (accessed March 3, 2007)
All causes841.9700.031.517.081.5103.6201.6433.2940.92,255.05,463.114,593.3832.7
Diseases of heart235.611.01.20.62.78.230.792.5233.2585.01,611.15,278.4232.3
Malignant neoplasms191.51.92.52.64.09.435.0122.2343.0770.31,302.51,698.2190.1
Cerebrovascular diseases54.22.50.30.20.51.55.515.035.6112.9410.71,370.153.5
Chronic lower respiratory diseases43.50.80.30.30.50.72.18.743.3163.2383.0635.143.3
Accidents (unintentional injuries)37.623.610.96.437.131.537.838.832.944.1101.9278.937.3
Diabetes mellitus25.5**0.10.41.64.613.938.590.8181.1317.525.3
Influenza and pneumonia22.48.01.00.40.50.92.25.211.237.3151.1666.122.0
Alzheimer's disease21.8******0.22.020.9164.4802.421.4
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis14.64.5*0.10.20.71.84.913.640.1109.5293.114.4
Septicemia11.76.90.50.20.40.82.15.313.132.685.0202.511.6
Intentional self-harm (suicide)10.80.69.712.714.915.913.812.716.416.910.8
Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis9.5****0.96.818.323.029.530.020.19.3
Essential (primary) hypertension and hypertensive renal disease7.5***0.10.20.82.56.316.951.7188.97.4
Parkinson's disease6.2******0.21.312.767.8138.26.2
Assault (homicide)6.18.52.40.813.011.37.04.92.82.42.52.26.0

VICTIM-OFFENDER RELATIONSHIP

Table 7.4 shows that between 1980 and 2002 the most frequent killers of children under age six were their parents, whereas parents were rarely involved in the murder of teens aged fifteen to seventeen, although this varied by gender of the child. Almost two-thirds (61%) of all female juveniles killed were murdered by a parent or stepparent, compared with only 26% of male juveniles. Half of all male juveniles killed (50%) were murdered by an acquaintance, compared with only 29% of female juveniles. Females were also less likely than males to be murdered by a stranger (3% and 18%, respectively.)

TABLE 7.3
Murder victims by age, sex, and race, 2004
Age Total Sex Race
Male Female Unknown White Black Other Unknown
aBecause of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
bDoes not include unknown ages.
Source: "Expanded Homicide Data Table 2. Murder Victims by Age, Sex, and Race, 2005," in Crime in the United States 2005, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, September 2006, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_02.html (accessed March 3, 2007)
   Total 14,860 11,683 3,155 22 7,133 7,125 390 212
Percent distributiona10078.621.20.14847.92.61.4
Under 18b1,4461,01942257166703525
Under 22b3,6052,91268851,5991,8609650
18 and overb13,15310,4742,67726,3026,370350131
Infant (under 1)18210473511553410
1 to 4328186142017514058
5 to 87538370383241
9 to 127838400393621
13 to 16456365910208237101
17 to 191,3491,18416505557513211
20 to 242,8342,46037401,1101,6069325
25 to 292,2621,92034209511,2474816
30 to 341,6491,34130807368603617
35 to 391,25793032616255863214
40 to 441,19487432006365043816
45 to 4993870523305283732512
50 to 547085431641403277199
55 to 593842751090259108134
60 to 6427219280017581115
65 to 691831087501255161
70 to 74159966301173840
75 and over29113415702236035
Unknown261190561511585556
TABLE 7.4
Offender relationship to juvenile homicide victims, by age and gender of victims, 1980–2002
Offender relationship to victim Age of Victim Victim ages 0-17
0-17 0-5 6-11 12-14 15-17 Males Females
Note: Detail may not total 100% due to rounding.
Source: "Victim-Offender Relationship in Juvenile Homicides by Age of Victim, 1980–2002," in OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, March 27, 2006, http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org/ojstatbb/victims/qa02302.asp?qaDate_2002 (acccessed March 2, 2007)
Offender known 74%88%81%72%64%72%88%
   Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Parent/stepparent31%62%40%11%3%26%61%
Other family member7%7%15%11%5%6%7%
Acquaintance47%28%30%58%66%50%29%
Stranger15%3%15%20%25%18%3%
Offender unknown 26%12%19%28%36%28%12%

The risk of being killed by a parent decreases with age. Sixty-two percent of murder victims aged five and younger were killed by a parent or stepparent, compared with 40% of children aged six to eleven, 11% of children aged twelve to fourteen, and 3% of children aged fifteen to seventeen. (See Table 7.4.) The risk of being killed by an acquaintance or a stranger, however, increased with age. About a quarter of children under age six (28%) were killed by an acquaintance, compared with 66% of fifteen- to seventeen-year-olds; only 3% of the youngest children were killed by strangers, compared with 25% of fifteen- to seventeen-year-olds.

WEAPONS USED IN MURDERS OF JUVENILES

Snyder and Sickmund report that the number of youths dying as a result of firearms increased 152% between 1985 and 1993 before beginning to decline. Even though the number of homicides involving no firearm declined little between 1993 and 2002, a huge drop in the number of homicides involving a firearm resulted in the overall number of homicides of juveniles falling to the lowest level since 1984 in 2002. Nonetheless, almost half of all juveniles murdered in 2002 (48%) were killed with a firearm. Another 22% were beaten/kicked to death or strangled, and 11% were killed with a knife or blunt object. The remaining 19% were killed with another type of weapon, or the type of weapon used was unknown.

The FBI reports that these trends continued in 2005; firearms were used in most murders of juveniles and young adults in that year. Of 1,446 murder victims under the age of eighteen, 720 (49.8%) were killed with firearms. (See Table 7.5.) Of 3,605 murder victims who were under the age of twenty-two, 9,244 (70.3%) were killed with firearms. A low proportion of the youngest murder victims were killed by firearms, but that proportion rose with age. The most firearm-related murders were in the twenty to twenty-four age group (2,269 deaths). However, the greatest percentage of firearm-related murders was among those aged seventeen to nineteen (83.7%). Other weapons most frequently used to kill juveniles included "personal" weapons—hands, feet, fists, and so on—and knives.

Rape

For several reasons, the statistics on rape are incomplete. The crime often goes unreported. The BJS estimates that only about one-third of the cases of completed or attempted rape are ever reported to police; other organizations estimate that the proportion of reported rapes is even lower. Because its data are collected through interviews, the BJS recognizes an underreporting in its statistics as well. Acquaintance rape is far more common than stranger rape. Most experts conclude that in 80% to 85% of all rape cases the victim knows the rapist.

In Crime in the United States 2005, the UCR defines forcible rape as "the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Assaults and attempts to commit rape by force or threat of force are also included; however, statutory rape (without force) [sex with a consenting minor] and other sex offenses are excluded." Rape is a crime of violence in which the victim may suffer serious physical injury and long-term psychological pain. The UCR indicates that in 2005 there were 93,934 reported rape offenses, a decrease of 1.2% from the year before. The rate of forcible rapes was reported at a rate of 62.5 offenses per 100,000 females.

Rape victims are disproportionately young. Catalano reports that rape/sexual assault in 2005 occurred at a rate of 1.2 per 1,000 twelve- to fifteen-year-olds and 3.2 per 1,000 sixteen- to nineteen-year-olds. NCVS data also include rapes committed against males. (See Table 7.6.) Females aged sixteen to nineteen experienced the highest rates (5.7 per 1,000). (See Table 7.7.)

The NCVS finds that in 2005 only 33.1% of those aged twelve to nineteen who acknowledged being victims of rape/sexual assault reported the incident to police. (See Table 7.8.)

Aggravated and Simple Assault

Catalano notes that in 2005 aggravated assault was most common among young people. It occurred at a rate of 8.7 per 1,000 twelve- to fifteen-year-olds, 9.7 per 1,000 sixteen-to nineteen-year-olds, and 10 per 1,000 twenty- to twenty-four-year-olds. After that age the rate began to decline. Among white males, those aged twenty to twenty-four experienced the highest rate (15.7 per 1,000), whereas among African-American males, sixteen- to nineteen-year-olds experienced the highest rate (16.3 per 1,000). The same pattern held among females; African-American women in the sixteen to nineteen age group experienced the highest rate (17.7 per 1,000), whereas white women in the twenty to twenty-four age group experienced the highest rate (4.9 per 1,000). (See Table 7.9.)

According to Catalano, in 2005 simple assault occurred at a rate of 30.6 per 1,000 twelve- to fifteen-year-olds, 24.2 per 1,000 sixteen- to nineteen-year-olds, and 30.3 per 1,000 twenty- to twenty-four-year-olds, after which the rate began to decline. Males had a higher rate of simple assault than females. White and African-American males had a similar rate of simple assault victimization. By contrast, young African-American females between the ages of twelve and fifteen had a significantly higher simple assault victimization rate than did white females in the same age group (34.3 per 1,000 and 21 per 1,000, respectively). (See Table 7.9.)

Robbery and Theft

Catalano reports that in 2005 robbery occurred at a rate of 3.5 per 1,000 twelve- to fifteen-year-olds, 7 per 1,000 sixteen- to nineteen-year-olds, and 5.5 per 1,000 twenty- to twenty-four-year-olds, after which age the rates began to decline. Young males, particularly young African-American males, had a high rate of robbery victimization. Among white males, those aged sixteen to twenty-four had a victimization rate of 8.8 per 1,000. Among African-American males aged sixteen to nineteen, the victimization rate was 29.5 per 1,000. (See Table 7.9.)

TABLE 7.5
Murder victims by age and weapon, 2005
Age Total murder victims Weapons
Firearms Knives or cutting instruments Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.) Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.)a Poison Explosives Fire Narcotics Strangulation Asphyxiation Other weapon or weapon not statedb
aPushed is included in personal weapons.
bIncludes drowning.
cBecause of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
dDoes not include unknown ages.
*Less than one-tenth of 1 percent.
Source: "Expanded Homicide Data Table 8. Murder Victims by Age, by Weapon, 2005," in Crime in the United States 2005, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, September 2006, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_08.html (accessed March 3, 2007)
   Total 14,860 10,100 1,914 597 892 9 2 123 44 120 96 963
Percent distributionc100.068.012.94.06.00.1*0.80.30.80.66.5
Under 18d1,44672011563297703971333152
Under 22d3,6052,476345923357044132739227
18 and overd13,1539,2441,77852457322813510459751
Infant (under 1)1825411103204521333
1 to 43283214321501015041466
5 to 875209316301211010
9 to 127833113910504111
13 to 164563614791100110323
17 to 191,3491,1291181824003111342
20 to 242,8342,269315436400116119106
25 to 292,2621,8022314965009610783
30 to 341,6491,263176406301446389
35 to 391,2578611846047009111777
40 to 441,1947481917379006113479
45 to 499385281855065109317476
50 to 547083511486060001248263
55 to 5938418978412200603540
60 to 6427213052212601412332
65 to 69183924618900212211
70 to 741595838201300111423
75 and over29193463644107611839
Unknown26113621102200323460
TABLE 7.6
Rates of violent crime and personal theft, by gender, age, race, and Hispanic origin, 2005
Demographic characteristic of victim Population Victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older
Violent crimes
All Rape/sexual assault Robbery Assault Personal theft
Total Aggravated Simple
Note: The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) includes as violent crime rape, sexual assault robbery, and assault. Because the NCVS interviews persons about their victimizations, murder and manslaughter cannot be included. Racial and ethnic categories in 2005 are not comparable to categories used prior to 2003.
*Based on 10 or fewer sample cases.
Source: Shannan M. Catalano, "Table 6. Rates of Violent Crime and Personal Theft, by Gender, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Age, 2005," in Criminal Victimization, 2005, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, September 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cv05.pdf (accessed March 3, 2007)
Gender
Male118,937,73025.50.1*3.821.5 5.615.90.8
Female125,555,71017.11.41.414.3 3.111.21.0
Race
White200,263,41020.10.62.217.2 3.813.40.9
Black29,477,88027.01.84.620.6 7.613.01.7
Other race12,522,09013.90.5*3.010.4 2.5*7.90.2*
Two or more races2,230,05083.63.8*1.8*78.016.661.50.0*
Hispanic origin
Hispanic31,812,27025.01.1*4.019.9 5.914.01.0*
Non-Hispanic211,629,88020.60.72.417.5 4.113.40.9
Age
12-1517,061,94044.01.2*3.539.3 8.730.61.3*
16-1916,524,94044.23.27.033.9 9.724.21.6*
20-2420,363,57046.91.1*5.540.310.030.31.5*
25-3439,607,31023.60.7*3.119.9 4.715.21.0
35-4965,707,72017.50.6*1.915.0 3.211.81.0
50-6450,164,65011.40.6*1.49.3 2.47.00.6*
65 or older35,063,3102.40.0*0.6*1.9 0.8*1.10.4*
TABLE 7.7
Victimization rates for persons age 12 and over, by gender and age of victims and type of crime, 2005
Gender and age Total population Rate per 1,000 persons in each age group
Crimes of violence Completed violence Attempted/threatened violence Rape/sexual assaulta Robbery Assault Purse snatching/pocket picking
Total With injury Without injury Total Aggravated Simple
Note: Detail may not add to total shown because of rounding.
*Estimate is based on about 10 or fewer sample cases.
aIncludes verbal threats of rape and threats of sexual assault.
Source: "Table 4. Personal Crimes, 2005: Victimization Rates for Persons Age 12 and Over, by Gender and Age of Victims and Type of Crime," in Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2005 Statistical Tables, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cvus05.pdf (accessed March 3, 2007)
Male
12-158,762,34053.118.135.00.0* 4.22.0*2.2*48.912.536.41.5*
16-198,400,35054.023.430.60.8*11.33.0*8.341.812.529.31.9*
20-2410,242,48058.817.940.90.0* 8.12.3*5.750.813.637.11.9*
25-3419,870,64026.4 8.418.00.1* 4.60.9*3.721.7 5.016.61.0*
35-4932,445,05018.6 5.613.00.2* 2.51.2*1.415.9 3.712.20.5*
50-6424,293,64013.4 3.110.30.0* 2.11.2*0.9*11.3 2.8 8.50.4*
65 and over14,923,220 3.5 0.5* 3.00.0* 0.9*0.2*0.7* 2.6 1.5* 1.1*0.2*
Female
12-158,299,60034.411.123.32.4* 2.8*0.7*2.1*29.2 4.724.51.0*
16-198,124,58034.012.022.05.7 2.6*0.6*1.9*25.7 6.818.91.3*
20-2410,121,09034.811.423.42.2* 2.9*0.6*2.3*29.7 6.323.41.2*
25-3419,736,67020.9 6.614.31.3* 1.5*0.5*1.0*18.1 4.413.81.0*
35-4933,262,67016.3 5.011.30.9* 1.30.4*0.9*14.0 2.611.41.4
50-6425,871,010 9.4 2.8 6.61.2* 0.7*0.2*0.5* 7.5 2.0 5.50.9*
65 and over20,140,090 1.6* 0.6* 1.1*0.0* 0.3*0.3*0.0* 1.3* 0.2* 1.1*0.5*
TABLE 7.8
Percent of victimizations reported to police by type of crime and age of victims, 2005
Type of crime Percent of victimizations reported to the police, by age of victim
12-19 20-34 35-49 50-64 65 and over
*Estimate is based on about 10 or fewer sample cases.
aIncludes verbal threats of rape and threats of sexual assault.
Source: "Table 96. Personal Crimes, 2005: Percent of Victimizations Reported to the Police, by Type of Crime and Age of Victims," in Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2005 Statistical Tables, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cvus05.pdf (accessed March 3, 2007)
All personal crimes  34.5%47.5% 58.9%49.4% 66.1%
Crimes of violence 35.648.0 59.349.2 68.2
    Completed violence 44.469.4 74.157.6 100.0*
    Attempted/threatened violence 30.638.2 52.846.2 58.8
    Rape/sexual assaulta 33.1*29.7* 62.0*37.0*  0.0*
    Robbery 30.952.8 72.068.8 57.7*
       Completed/property taken 26.8*66.5 85.385.9*100.0*
         With injury 40.3*80.5*100.086.4*100.0*
         Without injury 18.9*63.3 74.285.4*100.0*
       Attempted to take property 44.5*33.5* 39.1*42.3*  0.0*
         With injury100.0*43.2*  0.0*52.9*  0.0*
         Without injury 38.8*28.5* 62.3*30.5*  0.0*
    Assault 36.547.9 57.647.1 71.5
       Aggravated 57.161.5 71.756.4 89.9*
         With injury 69.986.9 71.557.1*100.0*
         Threatened with weapon 51.447.8 71.856.2 88.9*
       Simple 29.643.6 53.843.9 58.2*
         With minor injury 44.864.7 71.151.2*100.0*
         Without injury 23.836.6 48.842.5 51.2*
Purse snatching/pocket picking  0.0*32.5* 52.3*54.2* 52.2*
TABLE 7.9
Violent victimization rates for persons age 12 and over, by race and age of victims and type of crime, 2005
Race, gender, and age Total population Rate per 1,000 persons in each age group
Crimes of violencea Robbery Aggravated assault Simple assault
Number Rate Number Rate Number Rate Number Rate
Note: Excludes data on persons of "other" races and persons indicating two or more races.
*Estimate is based on about 10 or fewer sample cases.
aIncludes data on rape and sexual assault, not shown separately.
Source: "Table 10. Violent Crimes, 2005: Number of Victimizations and Victimization Rates for Persons Age 12 and Over, by Race, Gender, and Age of Victims and Type of Crime," in Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2005 Statistical Tables, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cvus05.pdf (accessed March 3, 2007)
White only
Male
    12-156,702,090335,52050.119,640* 2.9* 84,17012.6231,71034.6
    16-196,525,180355,26054.457,370 8.8 84,21012.9206,66031.7
    20-248,316,230539,54064.973,490 8.8130,63015.7335,42040.3
    25-3415,903,200393,23024.746,590 2.9 64,140 4.0282,51017.8
    35-4926,845,900483,40018.066,290 2.5 87,840 3.3323,85012.1
    50-6420,799,270270,61013.043,410 2.1 46,960 2.3180,240 8.7
    65 and over13,146,140 42,190 3.213,800*1.0* 22,420* 1.7* 5,970* 0.5*
Female
    12-156,380,710186,58029.217,440* 2.7* 22,480* 3.5*133,98021.0
    16-196,263,590185,72029.711,900* 1.9*20,350* 3.2*126,22020.2
    20-247,891,320254,58032.320,920* 2.7*38,810 4.9175,13022.2
    25-3415,432,730309,92020.127,400* 1.8*42,130 2.7229,47014.9
    35-4926,885,550449,14016.727,760* 1.0*66,610 2.5326,86012.2
    50-6421,633,960179,430 8.314,790* 0.7*42,450 2.0108,170 5.0
    65 and over17,537,540 30,790* 1.8* 6,230* 0.4* 4,740* 0.3* 19,820* 1.1*
Black only
Male
    12-151,423,280 90,90063.917,080*12.0*21,520*15.1*52,30036.7
    16-191,279,320 95,32074.537,75029.520,840*16.3*36,73028.7
    20-241,199,560 54,80045.7 9,240* 7.7* 4,900* 4.1*40,67033.9
    25-342,390,860 55,75023.317,610* 7.4*26,510*11.1* 8,930* 3.7*
    35-493,658,110 80,43022.013,030* 3.6*30,240* 8.3*37,16010.2
    50-642,334,400 39,96017.1 3,610* 1.5*18,220* 7.8*18,130* 7.8*
    65 and over1,137,310  6,400* 5.6*    0* 0.0*     0* 0.0* 6,400* 5.6*
Female
   12-151,320,950 72,30054.7 6,010* 4.5* 13,750*10.4* 45,30034.3
   16-191,287,460 65,37050.8 4,890* 3.8* 22,820*17.7* 18,380*14.3*
   20-241,478,900 67,92045.9 8,010* 5.4* 21,400*14.5* 38,51026.0
   25-342,859,550 59,08020.7 2,670* 0.9* 31,750*11.1* 16,410* 5.7*
   35-494,404,500 63,95014.513,160* 3.0* 7,530* 1.7* 43,260 9.8
   50-642,874,400 44,62015.5 3,250* 1.1* 6,020* 2.1* 20,840* 7.3*
   65 and over1,829,280     0* 0.0*    0* 0.0*     0* 0.0*     0* 0.0*

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Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice


INTERNATIONAL

Diane E. Hill

UNITED STATES

Victor L. Streib

C. Antoinette Clarke

INTERNATIONAL


In the late nineteenth century, a movement began in Europe and the United States that acknowledged the role played by social and economic conditions in setting children in conflict with the law. This resulted in the establishment of separate judicial proceedings for juveniles in many parts of the world by the beginning of the twentieth century, with uneven success and public support. Although interwoven with other human rights issues, such as a child's right to education, and to structural injusticesparticularly racism and poverty, with its criminal wake of drug-dealing, prostitution, and theftjuvenile justice administration as a topic of international human rights concern did not fully emerge until the last quarter of the twentieth century.

The League of Nations' 1924 Declaration of the Rights of Children, followed by the United Nations' declaration (1959), recognized the issue of children's rights as a topic of international concern. However, neither document addressed the rights of children in conflict with the law or whether the young should be differentiated from adults in justice administration. The UN's 1955 Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners stipulated that young offenders should not be imprisoned and, if they were, that they be separated from incarcerated adults. It was not until 1980 that the UN's Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders resolved to comprehensively address the unique needs of juvenile offenders.

Following this initiative, in 1985 the UN adopted the Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, or Beijing Rules. Recognizing the juvenile's evolving social, physical, and psychological development, the Beijing Rules sought to couple rehabilitation with judicial correction proportionate to a juvenile's personal circumstance and offence. Subsequently, the nonbinding UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Their Liberty and the UN Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, or Riyadh Guidelines, were adopted by the UN in 1990. Contributing to forming international norms that applied child-centered values to juvenile delinquency and criminality, these documents prescribed that society interact with its troubled youth as valuable members and not as objects to be socialized or controlled.

However, the most significant instrument establishing juvenile justice as a topic of international concern is the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Entering into force in 1990 as the most well-received human rights treaty in history, it obligates its 191 ratifying states only Somalia and the United States have yet to ratifyto alter their domestic legislation to comply with its provisions and regularly report their compliance to the CRC's monitoring mechanism, the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Importantly, the CRC generalized seventeen as the maximum age for juvenile status, a dividing line between children and adults that has remained the international norm.

Although some of the CRC's general provisions are relevant to children in conflict with the law, Articles 37 and 40 specifically address juvenile justice issues. Article 37 upholds the dignity owed a young offender as a human being, prohibits torture and degrading treatment or punishment, and abolishes capital punishment and life imprisonment without possibility of release for people under eighteen. Imprisonment of a child is proclaimed a measure of last resort to be applied for as little time as possible. Reflecting the 1966 International Convention on Political and Civil Rights, the young offender must be separated from incarcerated adults if detained or imprisoned.

Article 40 advocates the reintegration of the child as a constructive member of society. It echoes the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights in proclaiming a child's right to due process and presumption of innocence until proven guilty, to have access to legal assistance, and to obtain an expeditious trial. Besides requiring states to establish a minimum age below which children cannot be deemed criminally culpable, Article 40 calls for children to be handled without resort to judicial proceedings whenever possible and offered alternative correction programs which might involve counseling, probation, foster care, education, and vocational training proportionate to their circumstances and offenses.

Regional treaties also significantly contribute to the shaping of international rights norms for juvenile justice administration. The 1969 American Convention on Human Rights prohibited the death penalty for those under the age of eighteen and prescribed the separation of young offenders from adults. It also specified the right to a speedy trial before "specialized tribunals" mindful of the offender's status as a minor. In 1999, the Organization of African Unity's African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990) went into force as the first regional charter subsequent to the CRC that specifically addresses the administration of juvenile justice (Article 17) from the CRC's child's rights perspective. The 1954 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) stipulated few children's rights relevant to youth in conflict with the law, prompting the Council of Europe to adopt the comprehensive European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights in 2000.

Although much has been done in the last few decades to strengthen the rights of children in justice systems around the world, urgent human rights issues remain. Many countries, especially those most impoverished, lack a specific juvenile justice system or insufficiently support the existing system's infrastructure, resulting in overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and the detention of minors with adults. Countries are challenged to fund rehabilitation programs and training programs for juvenile system personnel (who are often of a different cultural and economic background from the offenders), and coordination of relevant services of child psychologists, social workers, and lawyers is lacking. A country's wealth is not necessarily an indicator of a thriving juvenile justice system or immunity from inefficient legal processes that lead to lengthy delays and confinement of a child pending indictment or trial. In 2002, Human Rights Watch reported the lack of legal representation and systemic guarantees to fair hearings for young offenders in the United States, along with Brazil, Bulgaria, Guatemala, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Pakistan, and Russia. In detention facilities, children can face prolonged separation from their families, denial of legal assistance, and sentences that are incommensurate with the offense.

Another profound problem is physical abuse, including corporal punishment, meted out by police or staff. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has noted incidences of torture, flogging, or whipping visited upon youth offenders in Latin America, Africa, and other areas. Youth detention also occurs as a remedy for perceived social problems such as sodomy or for family problems such as unruliness. Moreover, increasing crime at the end of the twentieth century in such countries as the United States and Australia led to the establishment of mandatory sentencing rather than allowing the judge discretion to consider a juvenile offender's individual situation.

Underscoring the pressing nature of these human rights needs is a lack of domestic legislation that integrates the international norms of the CRC and other UN rules and guidelines regarding juvenile justice administration, as manifested in some formerly colonized countries that have retained colonial-era legislation. Some countries, like Vanuatu, have experienced conflicts because the application of new domestic legislation has been challenged by traditional law and custom. Tribal leaders and community chiefs, skeptical of the Western values the CRC seems to represent, expressed concern that the Convention's provisions might alienate children from their traditional values and customs and accelerate youth delinquency.

In complying with the CRC, many states assign its juvenile justice provisions low priority since the plight of young offenders attracts far less sympathy and support for scarce resources. Besides creating or strengthening juvenile justice administration, the young offender's right to education is generally neglected by states in contrast to their willingness to expand education for other children. The lack of sympathy this reveals is often exacerbated by the mass media's proclivity to link types of crime with young offenders in the public's imagination, and to frequently distort the pervasiveness of juvenile delinquency in society. The Riyadh Guidelines specifically urge the media to "portray the positive contribution of young persons to society" since it has a substantial influence on the public will for either punitive or rehabilitative change in the juvenile justice system.

Global diplomacy is also affected by differences between national juvenile justice systems. Extradition treaties between countries must account for different views concerning the death penalty. This is especially true in relations with the United States, since it is one of the few countries that permits this sentence for those who commit capital crimes before age eighteen. Contravening the emerging international norm, twenty-three states within the United States still allow the death penalty for convicted youth under eighteen or life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Since 1985, only Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Yemen have executed offenders younger than eighteen. Other international difficulties emerge with detained children who are in conflict with immigration laws in Australia, the United States, and Germany, among others. Abuses against certain minorities also bridge national borders, as illustrated by the Roma's plight in Italy, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. An effective and integrated approach to address global increases in cross-border youth prostitution and drug-dealing is a continuing topic of international concern for juvenile justice administration.

See also: Abduction in Modern Africa; Child Labor in Developing Countries; Child Labor in the West; Child Pornography; Child Prostitution; Soldier Children: Global Human Rights Issues.

bibliography

Feld, Barry C., ed. 1999. Readings in Juvenile Justice Administration. New York: Oxford University Press.

Shoemaker, Donald, ed. 1996. International Handbook on Juvenile Justice. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

United Nations. 1985. Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (The Beijing Rules). G.A. Res. 40/33, 40U.N. GAOR Supp. No. 53 at 207, U.N. Doc. A/40/53.

United Nations. 1989. Convention on the Rights of the Child. G.A. Res. 44/25, U.N. GAOR, 44th Sess., Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/49.

United Nations. 1990. Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (The Riyadh Guidelines). G.A. res. 45/112, annex, 45 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 49A) at 201, U.N. Doc. A/45/49.

United Nations. 1990. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty. G.A. res. 45/113, annex, 45 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 49A) at 205, U.N. Doc. A/45/49.

United Nations. 2002. Report of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. U.N. GAOR, 57th Sess., Supp. No. 41, U.N. Doc. A/57/41.

internet resources

Annan, Kofi. A. 2003. "We the Children: Meeting the Promises of the World Summit for Children." Available from <www.unicef.org/specialsession/about/sg-report.htm>.

Cothern, Lynn. 2002. "Juveniles and the Death Penalty." Available from <www.ncjrs.org/html/ojjdp/coordcouncil/index.html>.

Defence for Children International. 2003. Available from <http://defence-for-children.org/>.

Human Rights Watch. 2003. "Juvenile Justice." Available from <www.hrw.org/children/justice.htm>.

Human Rights Watch. 2003. "World Report 2003." Available from <www.hrw.org/wr2k3/>.

United Nations. 1989. Convention on the Rights of the Child, U.N. Doc. A/44/49. Available from <www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/6/crc/treaties/crc.htm>.

United Nations. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Committee on the Rights of the Child. 2003. Available from <www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/6/crc/>.

Diane E. Hill

UNITED STATES


The American judicial system operates on the premise that "children have a very special place in life which law should reflect" (May v. Anderson, 1953). A prime example of this "special place" for children who are offenders is the U.S. juvenile justice system, with responsibility for protecting the general public from juvenile offenses while observing an intricate network of legal rights and procedures for those caught up in the system.

Major Eras of Juvenile Justice

Social welfare. The social welfare era (pre-1899) of American juvenile justice had its roots in centuries-old English common law. Derived from the royal prerogative, the early common law gave the English Crown the right and responsibility to protect persons deemed legally incapable of caring for themselves. Protection of children, however, was normally confined to families of the landed aristocracy, with an eye toward securing financial reward for the Crown itself. After the American Revolution, the states assumed for themselves the authority held by the Crown, but they extended protection beyond the landed gentry.

Throughout most of the United States' early history, children were viewed as legal incompetents in family and financial matters until they reached the age of majority (age twenty-one for most of U.S. history). The law remained generally unconcerned with affairs within the family and recognized almost absolute parental authority over children. Supported by religious and educational views that emphasized corporal punishment, parents and educators were free to use whatever means they deemed appropriate to break or to beat down disobedient children. Courts rarely interfered with parental and school disciplinary practices. This "handsoff" approach to problematic behavior by children generally characterized governmental approaches until the early and middle decades of the 1800s.

In nineteenth-century America, the Industrial Revolution forced people to live in close proximity to each other and to confront the social challenges that came with the urban lifestyle. The changes that were taking place were especially significant with respect to children, and states quickly recognized the need to deal with children who were considered incorrigible or who posed a problem to their families or to the community.

In direct response to these concerns, the state of New York and later the city of Philadelphia established Houses of Refuge. These privately funded houses were designed to provide custody for children who had committed criminal offenses or who were found to be runaways or vagrants. These institutions were essentially established to save children from a life of crime and the consequences of incarceration with adults. By the end of the nineteenth century, concern for these children became widespread and similar institutions to house all wayward children were created in a number of major cities. This concern served as a basis for the creation of juvenile courts, through which states could intervene officially on behalf of children who had committed criminal acts.

Socialized juvenile justice. The socialized juvenile justice era (18991966) began with the advent of the juvenilecourt, a product of the social and political movements from the 1890s through the early 1900s. These movements have been characterized alternatively as Progressive child-welfare movements reaching out to rescue children from the harsh criminal justice system or as mechanisms to impose middle-class values upon poor and powerless children. Whatever the motives for its creation, the juvenile court idea took root and spread throughout the country. By 1912, about half of the states had juvenile courts, and by the end of the twentieth century juvenile courts existed in every state.

Until 1966, the juvenile justice system operated under a concept of law and justice fundamentally different from other American judicial systems. Instead of reacting to violations of law or providing a forum for resolution of legal disputes, the socialized juvenile justice system attempted to intervene before serious violations of law occurred. This approach involved predicting the future behavior of a child rather than deliberating over evidence of a child's past criminal acts. It was designed to offer approximately the same care, custody, and discipline that a loving parent would offer to a child. Acting in the capacity of a foster parent, the state assumed the nearly unchallengeable authority of a parent over a child.

All of the basic functions were performed in the socialized juvenile justice system that are performed in the current system, albeit in a much more informal and perfunctory manner. The socialized system simply left presentation of the child's side of the case to the same police officer or probation officer responsible for presentation of the state's side of the case.

Defendants' rights. The defendants' rights era (19661990) began when the Supreme Court examined the socialized era and expressed a "concern that the child receives the worst of both worlds: that he gets neither the protections accorded to adults nor the solicitous care and regenerative treatment postulated for children" (Kent v. United States, 1966). In 1967 the Supreme Court imposed the requirements of constitutional due process upon the juvenile court's adjudication hearing in In re Gault, including the right to defense counsel for the juvenile, the right to notice of the charges and hearings, the right to confront and cross-examine opposing witnesses, and the right to remain silent and not to testify against oneself.

These basic procedural rights were bolstered in 1970 when the Supreme Court decided that delinquency cases must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the state, the same level of proof required in adult criminal cases (In re Winship, 1970). Since the general rules of evidence from criminal court also are followed in juvenile court, these juvenile adjudication hearings became almost indistinguishable from criminal trials, except that the Constitution does not require that juvenile cases be decided by juries (McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 1971).

These procedural requirements had a profound effect upon the juvenile court process. Assurance of representation by a defense attorney meant that the hearings were converted from informal conferences into adversarial contests, often quite similar to criminal trials. Proof requirements increased the focus upon the elements of each offense charged and decreased the emphasis upon the individual child.

Retribution and responsibility. The juvenile justice system entered a retribution and responsibility era in 1990. The defendant's rights of juvenile offenders remained generally intact, but in the early 1990s American society became much more focused on juveniles being held responsible and suffering retribution for their offenses. This meant that more cases were transferred from juvenile to criminal court and the discretion given to prosecutors to file juvenile cases directly in adult criminal court was increased. This was a complete reversal of the original impetus for the creation of the juvenile justice system in the early 1900s, which was to remove children from the punitive criminal justice system in order to provide them with treatment and rehabilitation.

A relatively new type of statute, known as blended sentencing or extended juvenile jurisdiction, is also becoming more popular as an effort to merge critical functions of the juvenile justice system and the adult criminal system. Blended sentencing allows the adult criminal judge or the juvenile judge to impose both a juvenile sentence and, subsequently, an adult sentence for those juvenile offenders who should be incarcerated beyond the age of majority. This type of legislation is seen as a way to detain juveniles who may be too young for imprisonment in adult jails at the time of the offense but who should not be released in just a few years. Typically, the adult sentence is stayed pending good behavior while serving the juvenile sentence. However, for particularly heinous crimes, such as murder or rape, the sentence becomes effective immediately after the juvenile reaches that state's age of majority. Variations of blended sentencing statutes range from the juvenile receiving either an adult sentence or a juvenile sentence to the juvenile receiving one combined sentence consisting of both juvenile and adult incarceration. A contiguous blended sentence allows the juvenile court to impose a juvenile sanction that may remain in force beyond the age of the court's extended jurisdiction.

In other modern legal systems, the youthfulness of juvenile offenders typically is an explicit factor in both the processes pursued and the sentences imposed, but few other countries have officially separate juvenile courts as found in the United States. Generally, the offenses and special needs of children are handled much more informally elsewhere, and American sanctions imposed on juvenile offenders are much more severe than almost anywhere else in the world.

Juvenile Offenses and Correctional Alternatives

The concept of children as offenders encompasses the instances in which persons under the juvenile court age limit (usually age eighteen) commit acts that harm or threaten to harm the persons and/or property of others or, in some cases, of themselves. Most of these acts would be crimes, but they are not treated as such because the actors are children.

Traffic offenses were originally treated no differently from other juvenile offenses. However this practice has come under considerable criticism, and the trend is to relegate less-serious traffic offenses to traffic court. The teenage driver is treated just as an adult driver would be, except that the teenager may have more restrictions placed on their driver's license and they may lose their driving privileges more easily than would an adult driver. More serious traffic offenses, such as reckless homicide, tend to remain in juvenile court and are processed as regular delinquency cases. Some jurisdictions allow the trial proceedings to be held in either the juvenile court or the traffic court, but the Supreme Court has made it clear that trials in both courts for the same offense would be unconstitutional (Breed v. Jones, 1975).

Status offenses cover a range of noncriminal behaviors by children and may account for up to one-half of the total work load of juvenile courts. Status offenses are comparatively vague, all-encompassing behaviors, such as habitual truancy, that could easily be interpreted to include the behavior, at some time, of every child. As a result, juvenile courts have essentially unchecked power to find almost any child guilty of a status offense. Juvenile courts also have the power to order almost the same punishment for status offenders as for delinquents, ranging from probation while continuing to live at home to placement in a secure institution far from home. Thus, status-offender jurisdiction remains broad and sweeping as compared to the comparatively narrow delinquency jurisdiction.

An act of delinquency is defined generally as a violation of a state or local criminal law, an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult. Some states have limited this broad definition of delinquency by excluding the most serious and/or the most minor criminal offenses. Such jurisdictions will exclude, for example, any criminal offense punishable by death or life imprisonment. At the other end of the scale, some jurisdictions exclude such minor crimes as traffic offenses and fish and game law violations. Some acts of delinquency are law violations that apply only to children. Violations of curfew laws by minors is the most common example, but others include possession of air guns or drinking alcohol. Correctional alternatives for delinquents range from community probation to institutionalization for several years.

The most serious criminal offenses, such as murder, rape, and robbery, typically result in the teenager being prosecuted in adult criminal court, either after having been transferred from juvenile court or having been filed directly in criminal court from the beginning. In most jurisdictions, juvenile offenders convicted of such serious criminal offenses can and do receive the harshest adult sentences, including life in prison and even the death penalty. These most severe American sentences are nearly unmatched by other modern societies. Prison sentences in the United States generally are much longer than would be found for the same offenses elsewhere, and most other nations have eliminated the use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders. By the early twenty-first century, only the United States, especially in the state of Texas, continued to execute offenders for crimes committed as juveniles.

Juvenile Justice Process

When children within the age limits of juvenile court jurisdiction commit acts of delinquency or status offenses, the juvenile justice system usually has the authority to process them accordingly. It is not unusual for juveniles and their parents to voluntarily contact the police juvenile officer or the juvenile probation officer without an arrest or a request to appear. Most often the family is referred to other social service agencies for the assistance they request, but in some cases official court action is deemed appropriate.

The arrest of a child is not significantly different from the arrest of an adult. Considerable physical force can be used to effect the arrest, up to and including deadly force if absolutely necessary, although this is rare. Along with the arrest, there is a wide variety of police investigative activities necessary to gather evidence for use in the case being prepared against the juvenile. This may involve, for example, search of the child's person, home, car, or school locker. The police must give the required warnings prior to custodial questioning, which include the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during questioningthough there is some ambiguity in the law on this point (Fare v. Michael C., 1979). Some states prohibit questioning of children if their parents are not present, while other states require that the child first consult with an attorney before being allowed to make any statement.

If there are no parents to take the child, if the child's parents refuse to take the child, or if the situation is so serious that release seems inappropriate, the child may be detained pending further proceedings. The decision to do this is first made on the spot by a juvenile probation officer, but soon thereafter a detention hearing is held before a juvenile court judge. The policy of denying pretrial release to juveniles to prevent interim offenses was approved as constitutionally acceptable by the Supreme Court in 1984 (Schall v. Martin ).

The next step is the intake hearing, which is the first stage of the juvenile court process. Here potential cases are screened for appropriateness for further, more formal action. Typically, the juvenile probation officer meets with the child and parents to discuss the police charges. The child is asked to give his or her side of the story, and everyone tries to determine whether or not formal court action will be necessary to resolve the matter.

If the case is not diverted at the intake hearing, the probation officer initiates a formal juvenile court petition under the authority of the juvenile court judge, establishing a formal prosecution of the juvenile in a court of law. The juvenile petition alleges that the child violated certain specific laws on a certain date in a certain place in a certain manner. Status-offender petitions are somewhat less specific but also allege the violation that is the basis of the case, and very serious juvenile offenses might be filed in directly adult criminal court.

In juvenile court a trial is referred to as an adjudication hearing, although it is quite similar in procedure to the criminal court trial. The prosecuting attorney presents the evidence for the state tending to prove that the juvenile committed the offenses alleged in the petition, and the defense attorney counters with evidence tending to cast doubt on that evidence. In almost all states the adjudication hearing is presented to the juvenile court judge alone, who returns the verdict and decides upon the proper sentence or disposition. Juvenile hearings are almost always closed to the public and press.

If the child has been adjudicated to be a delinquent or a status offender, then the juvenile justice process moves into the sentencing, or dispositional, stage. During the period between the adjudication hearing and the disposition hearing, the probation officers prepare a social history or presentence report. In addition to the probation officer's social history report and disposition recommendation, the juvenile court considers evidence and disposition recommendations presented by the juvenile's attorney, the parents, and anyone else knowledgeable about the child.

The dispositional alternatives available to the juvenile court judge in delinquency and status-offender cases are various forms of probation and institutionalization. Generally, younger juveniles with minimal previous offenses who have not committed very serious offenses tend to be placed on probation, while institutions are reserved for older juveniles with past records and those who have committed more serious offenses. The juvenile offender's record is kept confidential; and it may even be sealed and ultimately expunged from all official records, as if the offense never happened.

See also: Children's Rights; Law, Children and the; Police, Children and the.

bibliography

Feld, Barry C. 2000. Cases and Materials on Juvenile Justice Administration. St. Paul, MN: West.

Feld, Barry C. 2003. Juvenile Justice Administration in a Nutshell. St. Paul, MN: West.

Fox, Sanford J. 1970. "Juvenile Justice Reform: An Historical Perspective," Stanford Law Review, 22: 11871239.

Mack, Julian W. 1909. "The Juvenile Court." Harvard Law Review 23: 104122.

Victor L. Streib

C. Antoinette Clarke

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HILL, DIANE E.; STREIB, VICTOR L.; CLARKE, C. ANTOINETTE. "Juvenile Justice." Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

HILL, DIANE E.; STREIB, VICTOR L.; CLARKE, C. ANTOINETTE. "Juvenile Justice." Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (July 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3402800251.html

HILL, DIANE E.; STREIB, VICTOR L.; CLARKE, C. ANTOINETTE. "Juvenile Justice." Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. 2004. Retrieved July 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3402800251.html

Juvenile Court

Juvenile Court


The first official juvenile court was established in Cook County, Illinois, in 1899. By 1920, juvenile courts existed in almost every major city in the United States. Juvenile courts provided separate proceedings and facilities for criminal, neglected, and dependent youths under eighteen, and focused on prevention, diagnosis, and rehabilitation. The court originated as part of a larger movement in the nineteenth century to segregate children from the adult criminal system. Urban reformers had worried that the poor living conditions in many American industrial cities were causing deviant behavior. They advocated separate institutions and organizations that would remove troubled youths from bad environments and train them to become productive citizens. By the late nineteenth century, however, many Progressive reformers were critical of these earlier methods. Encouraged by new psychological and sociological studies, reformers promoted earlier intervention in children's lives. Through the juvenile court, reformers believed court authorities could alter bad behavior by taking into account each child's individual experiences. Since its inception, the juvenile court has served as both a humanitarian enterprise and a tool for social control.

Broadly conceived, juvenile courts intervened in the lives of children and their families. Courts adopted the medieval English doctrine of parens patriae, in which the state acted as parent in cases when the child's welfare was threatened. Judges conducted cases informally, as civil rather than criminal proceedings, and had a great deal of discretion to act in the child's best interests. Typically, judges appointed probation officers to investigate the child's family, living conditions, and health, and to determine if the child needed to appear in court or to be referred to social services. Children awaiting hearings often were placed in detention centers. There, the child would be segregated according to his age, sex, and medical condition, and evaluated. When the case came to court, the judge could use all the information gathered up to that point, as well as his own informal interactions with the child and the parents, to render his decision. Usually, judges ruled in favor of probation. However, if a case was serious and the judge could find no other recourse, the child could be committed to a state reformatory.

Although many people heralded the juvenile court as a humanitarian achievement, others were more critical. Early critics complained that juvenile courts did not adequately implement their intended procedures and programs. Courts often were overwhelmed with their caseloads, and were unable to provide sufficient attention to the children in their custody. In many instances, courts relied on overworked volunteers as probation officers, and continued to use jails and punitive measures rather than rehabilitative treatments.

Others criticized juvenile courts for wielding too much power over children and parents. Children were labeled delinquent not only for criminal offenses, but also for statutory offenses and for being dependents. Juvenile courts had no juries, no rules of evidence or of witnesses, and no due process. Judges also discouraged defendants from seeking attorneys. This meant judges commanded a disproportionate amount of discretion. Meanwhile, as numerous juvenile court scholars have noted, courts interfered with the authority of parents, and were frequently the location of class and cultural conflicts between court officials and families. Although in many instances parents used juvenile courts to assert their own authority over their children, some scholars have suggested that the Progressive juvenile court served as a mechanism of social control over both parents and children, and over the lower classes, minorities, and immigrants.

The 1960s brought about the most significant changes to the juvenile court since the beginning of the century. Civil libertarians argued that juvenile courts often discriminated against youths according to class, race, and ethnicity through discretionary rulings and institutional commitments. Moreover, they contended that youths faced punitive incarceration similar to adult offenders without the same constitutional rights in the courtroom. Within a ten-year period, the Supreme Court handed down five major decisionsmost famous of these was In re Gault (1967)which, together, restructured the juvenile court. These rulings provided greater due process and formalized proceedings, and narrowed judicial discretion. At the same time, many states legislated the removal of status offenders from the courts, mandated attorney involvement, modeled juvenile court proceedings after criminal courts, and placed more juvenile offenders in noninstitutional facilities. Ironically, since the late 1970s, as juvenile courts became more oriented towards children's rights, their proceedings also became more criminalized. Americans increasingly expressed greater concern about youth violence, and juvenile courts responded with tougher procedures and by trying more adolescents as adults.

The 1899 Chicago juvenile court has been influential internationally. Many industrialized and some developing countries have used the American juvenile court model as the basis for their own courts, incorporating judicial discretion and a social welfare approach. While each country's juvenile court is unique to that nation's culture, they all struggle with many of the same dilemmas regarding children's rights, racial and ethnic discrepancies, and rehabilitative versus punitive methods of controlling delinquency.

See also: Delinquency; Juvenile Justice.

bibliography

Platt, Anthony M. 1969. The Child Savers: The Invention of Delinquency. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Rosenheim, Margaret K., et al., eds. 2002. A Century of Juvenile Justice. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Ryerson, Ellen. 1978. The Best-Laid Plans: America's Juvenile Court Experiment. New York: Hill and Wang.

Schlossman, Steven L. 1977. Love and the American Delinquent: The Theory and Practice of "Progressive" Juvenile Justice, 18251920. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Schneider, Eric C. 1992. In the Web of Class: Delinquents and Reformers in Boston, 1810s1930s. New York: New York University Press.

Laura Mihailoff

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MIHAILOFF, LAURA. "Juvenile Court." Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

MIHAILOFF, LAURA. "Juvenile Court." Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (July 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3402800250.html

MIHAILOFF, LAURA. "Juvenile Court." Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. 2004. Retrieved July 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3402800250.html

juvenile court

ju·ve·nile court • n. a court of law responsible for the trial or legal supervision of children under a specified age (18 in most countries).

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"juvenile court." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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