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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

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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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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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 Crime and Victimization

chapter 8
JUVENILE CRIME AND VICTIMIZATION

For some young people, growing up can be troubling. While their peers are playing football, going to proms, and making plans for adulthood, a certain percentage of juveniles, for whatever reason, have brushes with the law. 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. In reporting national crime statistics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) considers people under eighteen to be juveniles. The FBI often breaks its juvenile crime statistics down into age-based subcategories, such as sixteen or older and fifteen or younger, to demonstrate how juvenile offenses vary with age.

ARRESTS

According to Howard N. Snyder's "Juvenile Arrests 2001" (Juvenile Justice Bulletin, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, December 2003), in 2001 there were an estimated 2.3 million arrests of people under age eighteen. (See Table 8.1.) Juveniles made up 17% of all arrests and 15% of violent crime arrests. Property crimes—burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson—accounted for 21.6% of juvenile arrests; drug or liquor law violations accounted for 15%; violent crimes accounted for 4.2% of arrests; and the rest were for a wide variety of offenses including fraud, vandalism, prostitution, offenses against family and children, and vagrancy.

Beginning in the late 1980s and peaking in 1994, there was considerable growth in the number of arrests of juveniles for violent crimes. (See Figure 8.1.) After 1994 the number began to decline, falling 44% between 1994 and 2001. The 2001 juvenile violent crime arrest rate was the lowest it had been since 1983. The juvenile arrest rate for murder fell 70% between its peak in 1993 and 2001.

In 2000 juvenile arrests for property crimes were at the lowest level in more than two decades. (See Figure 8.2.) Among property crimes committed by juveniles, larceny-theft (which includes things like shoplifting, theft from motor vehicles, and bicycle theft) was the most common offense.

Arrests by Gender

Among youths under the age of nineteen, far more males than females are arrested for most types of juvenile crimes. In 2001 28% of all juvenile arrests involved females. (See Table 8.1.) Detailed arrest data available for 2002 show that 150,845 males and 98,016 females under eighteen years old were arrested for larceny-theft; 26,958 males and 5,586 females under eighteen were arrested for motor vehicle theft; 54,915 males and 6,928 females under eighteen were arrested for burglary; and 15,858 males and 2,961 females under eighteen were arrested for receiving, buying, or possessing stolen property. (See Table 8.2 and Table 8.3.) However, more females than males were arrested for running away (54,010 females versus 36,339 males), prostitution, and commercialized vice (729 females versus 366 males).

Girls ages thirteen to fifteen were involved in approximately one-third (33.1%) of all arrests of juveniles in that age group in 2002, and 26% of all arrests of juveniles ages sixteen to seventeen were girls. (See Table 8.2 and Table 8.3.) Between 1980 and 2001 the rate of arrests of juvenile females increased more than the rate for males, particularly for violent crimes. (See Figure 8.3.) The change in arrest rates between 1980 and 2001 for aggravated assault (113% versus 22%), simple assault (257% versus 109%), and weapons law violations (140% versus 16%) were all much higher for females than males.

Arrests by Race/Ethnicity

Table 8.4 shows arrest trends from 1980 to 2001 by offense and race. Asian and Pacific Islander juveniles had the lowest arrest rates in all offense categories. African-American youths accounted for a disproportionate share of juvenile arrests.

TABLE 8.1

Number of juveniles arrested, by gender, age group, and type of offense, 2001
2001 estimated number of juvenile arrests Percent of total juvenile arrests Percent change
Most serious offense Female Under age 15 1992–2001 1997–2001 2000–2001
  • In 2001, there were an estimated 1,400 juvenile arrests for murder. Between 1997 and 2001, juvenile arrests for murder fell 47%.
  • Females accounted for 23% of juvenile arrests for aggravated assault and 32% of juvenile arrests for other assaults (i.e., simple assaults and intimidations) in 2001. Females were involved in 59% of all arrests for running away from home and 31% of arrests for curfew and loitering law violations.
  • Between 1992 and 2001, there were substantial declines in juvenile arrests for murder (62%), motor vehicle theft (51%), and burglary (40%) and major increases in juvenile arrests for drug abuse violations (121%).
Note: Detail may not add to totals because of rounding.
source: Howard N. Snyder, " The number of juvenile arrests in 2001—2.3 million—was 4% below the 2000 level and 20% below the 1997 level," in "Juvenile Arrests 2001," Juvenile Justice Bulletin, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, December 2003, http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/ojjdp/201370.pdf (accessed September 16, 2004)
Total 2,273,500 28% 32% −3% −20% −4%
Crime Index total587,9002937−31−28−5
Violent Crime Index96,5001833−21−21−2
Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter1,4001012−62−47−2
Forcible rape4,600138−24−14−1
Robbery25,600924−32−35−4
Aggravated assault64,9002337−14−13−1
Property Crime Index491,4003138−32−29−6
Burglary90,3001238−40−30−6
Larceny-theft343,6003939−27−30−6
Motor vehicle theft48,2001725−51−26−2
Arson9,3001264−7−98
Nonindex
Other assaults239,000324330−22
Forgery and counterfeiting5,8003611−27−26−8
Fraud8,9003316−5−18−9
Embezzlement1,80044715224−10
Stolen property (buying, receiving, possessing)26,8001727−45−37−6
Vandalism105,3001344−29−22−7
Weapons (carrying, possessing, etc.)37,5001134−35−260
Prostitution and commercialized vice1,4006915−8−515
Sex offense (except forcible rape and prostitution)18,000854−1061
Drug abuse violations202,5001517121−70
Gambling1,400313−53−47−17
Offenses against the family and children9,6003737109−116
Driving under the influence20,300185355−3
Liquor law violations138,100321021−9−11
Drunkenness20,40021134−21−10
Disorderly conduct171,700304034−211
Vagrancy2,3001925−37−24−10
All other offenses (except traffic)397,200262827−13−3
Suspicion1,3003633−53−429
Curfew and loitering142,900312834−29−13
Runaways133,3005938−25−30−6

DELINQUENCY COURT CASES

For statistical purposes, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) divides juvenile crimes into two general categories: delinquency offenses (acts that are illegal regardless of the age of the perpetrator) and status offenses (acts that are illegal only for minors, such as truancy, running away, curfew violations, ungovernability, and underage drinking).

Since the 1980s the justice system has implemented a variety of "tough-on-crime" policies, from which juvenile offenders are not exempt. When a juvenile is arrested and charged with a violation of criminal law, he or she becomes a delinquency case. When counting delinquency cases, one case can include more than one charge. For example, a youth brought in one time but on three different robbery charges is counted as one case. According to the OJJDP, juvenile courts handled an estimated 1.7 million delinquency cases in 1998 (the most recent year for which these statistics are available), a 44% increase over the 1989 caseload. In the same time period property offenses increased 11%, offenses against persons increased 88%, public order offenses increased 73%, and drug law violations increased 148%. Between 1994 and 1998 significant decreases occurred in several areas, including aggravated assault (22%), criminal homicide (36%), robbery (23%), and motor vehicle theft (28%).

Delinquency and Detention

Juvenile courts hear delinquency cases referred to them from law enforcement agencies, social service agencies,

FIGURE 8.1

schools, parents, probation officers, and victims. In 1997 (the most recent year of data available), law enforcement agencies accounted for 85% of all referrals.

One of the first decisions made in processing a delinquency case is whether the juvenile should be held in a detention facility between referral to the court and case disposition (the time a decision is reached). Detention may be necessary to protect the community from the juvenile, to ensure the juvenile's safety, to have the juvenile evaluated, or to ensure future court appearances. Between 1985 and 2000 the number of delinquency cases involving detention increased 41% (up by 95,200 cases). (See Figure 8.4.) Youths were held in detention facilities at some point between referral and disposition in 20% of all delinquency cases in 2000. In 2000 cases involving property were the least likely to result in detention (16%), while those involving crimes against a person were most likely to result in detention (24%). In the same year African-American youths (25%) were more likely than white youths (18%) to be held in detention.

Delinquency Case Processing

There is no national uniform procedure for processing juvenile delinquency cases, but cases generally follow similar paths. They are first screened by an intake department—the court, a state department of social services, or a prosecutor's office. A case may be handled either formally or informally.

When a case is to be handled formally, a petition must first be filed with the court (the offender is officially

FIGURE 8.2

charged with the offense). The court is asked for either an adjudicatory hearing (where a judge alone rules on the case) or waiver hearing (the juvenile court judge is asked to decide if the case should be waived to a criminal court where the youth will be tried as an adult).

A case is handled informally if the intake officer decides it will be resolved either by dismissing it for lack of evidence, referring it to a social services agency, imposing a fine or some form of restitution, or through informal probation.

Between 1985 and 2000 the number of delinquency cases that were handled formally increased 81%, although the delinquency caseload rose only 43%. In 2000 there were 36% more formal than informal delinquency cases. (See Figure 8.5.)

adjudication and disposition. If a youth is adjudicated delinquent, the juvenile court judge then makes a dispositional decision (imposes a sentence) that could include commitment to a residential facility, probation, referral to another agency or treatment program, fines, restitution, or community service. In 2000 formal probation was the most common outcome, ordered in 63% of adjudicated cases, an increase of 108% since 1985. (See Figure 8.6.) Almost one in four delinquents (24%) were sent to residential facilities, a 49% increase since 1985. Another 11% received other dispositions (sentences), including fines and restitution such as community service or enrollment in a nonresidential treatment or counseling program.

TABLE 8.2

Female arrests for ages 21 and under, by age, 2002
(10,372 agencies; 2002 estimated population 205,122,185)
Offense charged Total all ages Ages under 15 Ages under 18 Ages 18 and over Under 10 10–12 13–14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
1Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
2Violent crimes are offenses of murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.
3Property crimes are offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.
4Includes arson.
source: Adapted from "Table 40. Arrests, Females, by Age, 2002," in Crime in the United States, 2002, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of investigation, 2003, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_02/pdf/4sectionfour.pdf (accessed September 16, 2004)
Total 2,260,066 160,919 469,999 1,790,067 3,747 32,255 124,917 98,894 108,824 101,362 100,865 104,101 97,688 83,776
Percent distribution1100.07.120.879.20.21.45.54.44.84.54.54.64.33.7
Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter1,09217101991041318273939445654
Forcible rape27856109169615351819161091310
Robbery7,9734801,5836,390868404334363406479454405402
Aggravated assault68,5323,96010,46158,071878483,0252,0832,3012,1172,1862,3472,5052,567
Burglary27,3302,8566,92820,4021217322,0031,3801,3081,3841,5701,4641,1891,057
Larceny-theft312,73537,15198,016214,7198659,04127,24519,18621,34820,33118,10114,98412,53910,735
Motor vehicle theft17,7241,7685,58612,13841731,5911,4821,3231,013993904785716
Arson1,8024276661,13635143249108755641444039
Violent crime277,8754,51312,25465,6211019353,4772,4532,7102,5782,7142,8542,9793,033
Percent distribution1100.05.815.784.30.11.24.53.13.53.33.53.73.83.9
Property crime3359,59142,202111,196248,3951,02510,08931,08822,15624,05422,78420,70517,39614,55312,547
Percent distribution1100.011.730.969.10.32.88.66.26.76.35.84.84.03.5
Crime Index4437,46646,715123,450314,0161,12611,02434,56524,60926,76425,36223,41920,25017,53215,580
Percent distribution1100.010.728.271.80.32.57.95.66.15.85.44.64.03.6
Other assaults220,11422,87354,250165,8644545,51216,90710,98010,9619,4367,9877,9887,9737,929
Forgery and counterfeiting33,3231561,30332,02014341081543376561,2481,5631,6941,642
Fraud105,1914012,111103,08044702872945308862,2893,6104,1834,144
Embezzlement6,676284156,2610101820127240435453406354
Stolen property; buying, receiving, possessing16,3229532,96113,36120169764563698747883903857748
Vandalism32,9764,63510,29122,6852711,3223,0421,8051,9421,9091,7071,5681,3081,332
Weapons; carrying, possessing, etc.9,5531,1672,7866,76723290854608547464406411353365
Prostitution and commercialized vice38,6319472937,90206881271803281,2611,3531,2751,297
Sex offenses (except forcible rape and prostitution)5,5996611,2764,32346166449257202156247253211237
Drug abuse violations199,3614,83721,500177,861486394,1504,0755,5847,0049,80610,1489,7288,435
Gambling776833743053671217352517
Offenses against the family and children23,9609962,57621,384136234626571528481537624711859
Driving under the influence177,6071162,944174,663206901417861,9014,2195,5776,0098,557
Liquor laws114,9804,92035,76579,215403834,4976,46310,35114,03120,12120,33915,7572,243
Drunkenness57,8356292,92254,91313475695556821,0561,7721,8081,7212,111
Disorderly conduct118,13218,07541,87576,2572473,99813,8309,0558,2006,5455,1124,6124,4074,334
Vagrancy3,5201163573,16311410179659710696101117
All other offenses (except traffic)570,18623,26775,828494,3586753,94218,65016,55518,21917,78719,23322,45023,38423,42
Suspicion1,567773361,23111264667811560605348
Curfew and loitering law violations32,28110,07132,2811311,6388,3027,8578,6905,663
Runaways54,01020,12454,0104372,73416,95314,05413,3466,486

TABLE 8.3

Male arrests for ages 21 and under, by age, 2002
(10,372 agencies; 2002 estimated population 205,122,185)
Offense charged Total all ages Ages under 15 Ages under 18 Ages 18 and over Under 10 10–12 13–14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
1Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
2Violent crimes are offenses of murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.
3Property crimes are offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.
4Includes arson.
source: Adapted from "Table 39. Arrests, Males, by Age, 2002," in Crime in the United States, 2002, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2003, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/clus_02/pdf/4sectionfour.pdf (accessed September 16, 2004)
Total 7,559,435 349,307 1,154,193 6,405,242 16,157 87,842 245,308 207,784 273,085 324,017 377,971 398,150 374,598 342,014
Percent distribution1100.04.615.384.70.21.23.22.73.64.35.05.35.04.5
Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter9,015848728,14301371122247419529632642604
Forcible rape19,8841,1873,25216,632363218305446538681,0181,020893891
Robbery69,3693,84316,31053,059777213,0453,0744,1695,2245,7495,1634,2663,785
Aggravated assault270,90511,88633,820237,0856123,5027,7725,8657,4218,6489,86610,43910,51311,158
Burglary178,80619,53354,915123,8911,0325,07213,42910,13512,04113,20614,05011,6799,0917,799
Larceny-theft532,27457,939150,845381,4292,67316,75838,50827,13131,97533,80033,42328,43722,32318,870
Motor vehicle theft89,4636,45926,95862,505618335,5656,2167,2087,0756,7735,8594,7654,079
Arson10,0313,3015,1854,8465171,2071,577747596541453391288235
Violent crime2369,17317,00054,254314,9197254,55711,7189,60512,49015,15917,16217,25416,31416,438
Percent distribution1100.04.614.785.30.21.23.22.63.44.14.64.74.44.5
Property crime3810,57487,232237,903572,6714,28323,87059,07944,22951,82054,62254,69946,36636,46730,983
Percent distribution1100.010.829.370.70.52.97.35.56.46.76.75.74.53.8
Crime Index41,179,747104,232292,157887,5905,00828,42770,79753,83464,31069,78171,86163,62052,78147,421
Percent distribution1100.08.824.875.20.42.46.04.65.55.96.15.44.54.0
Other assaults701,56248,824114,746586,8162,35914,61131,85420,25022,69222,98021,61722,99523,69826,433
Forgery and counterfeiting49,7883012,34947,43920362453256471,0762,1432,6232,8142,424
Fraud127,8967774,323123,573581555645911,0811,8743,3214,7325,3365,233
Embezzlement6,740625906,1502105052132344441473368364
Stolen property; buying, receiving, possessing74,9584,09115,85859,1001188133,1602,9873,9024,8785,2505,0344,3183,779
Vandalism165,57428,25365,66499,9102,2948,72717,23211,37413,04612,99111,3759,2947,2917,105
Weapons; carrying, possessing, etc.108,7597,48022,50286,2574151,8765,1894,0074,8326,1837,1036,7666,1645,898
Prostitution and commercialized vice20,1277136619,7612185143101151306449520591
Sex offenses (except forcible rape and prostitution)62,2346,56512,60149,6333811,9784,2062,0951,9262,0152,3182,2812,1262,044
Drug abuse violations903,65616,999112,254791,4022361,97014,79318,95631,32044,97960,90761,95755,90450,356
Gambling6,7491631,0815,668027136194301423439451415360
Offenses against the family and children73,7561,4463,99669,7602073788617088789641,4221,6081,7532,118
Driving under the influence842,77025412,270830,50093171444903,0248,50220,44327,74031,64741,632
Liquor laws348,8695,21270,249278,6201123694,7319,36320,35135,32356,15461,32751,69711,077
Drunkenness355,9731,05010,607345,36674968801,5462,5635,44810,62911,91312,13216,314
Disorderly conduct364,69538,23997,173267,5221,24010,50426,49518,61219,74120,58118,51616,66215,64018,629
Vagrancy16,1582861,16214,996948229218304354579485439434
All other offenses (except traffic)2,036,10852,758206,1971,829,9112,44311,51738,79837,85251,78863,79982,89097,47599,32999,562
Suspicion6,1032178355,268540172154220244257265226240
Curfew and loitering law violations70,87418,99970,8743923,48915,11815,46620,37616,033
Runaways36,33913,02836,3396892,7369,6038,6679,5505,094

FIGURE 8.3

PROSECUTING MINORS AS ADULTS

Many people believe that some crimes are so terrible that the courts should focus on the type of offense and not the age of the accused in determining the type of trial court. The increase in violent crime among juveniles from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s saw U.S. juvenile courts handling 84% more criminal homicide cases in 1995 than in 1986. Voters were outraged over the crime wave, and lawmakers responded with tough new policies, including trying more juveniles in adult criminal courts.

TABLE 8.4

Juvenile arrest rates by offense and race, 1980–2001
White Black American Indian Asian
Offense 1980 1990 2001 1980 1990 2001 1980 1990 2001 1980 1990 2001
*Violent crime index includes murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.
**Property crime index includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.
Note: Persons of Hispanic ethnicity may be of any race. Arrests of Hispanics are not reported separately.
source: Adapted from "Juvenile Arrest Rates by Offense, Sex, and Race (1980–2001)," National Center for Juvenile Justice, May 31, 2003, http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org/ojstatbb/excel/JAR_053103.xls (accessed July 29, 2004)
Total including suspicion 6905.8 7232.9 6374.0 11599.9 14077.6 11063.1 7456.2 7242.5 7477.3 3417.0 3407.1 2774.6
Violent crime index*189.4253.7213.41190.41435.3765.8211.8217.0239.5134.0133.5110.8
Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter4.25.82.419.245.812.35.13.911.72.43.75.9
Forcible rape8.214.310.960.567.731.316.813.38.97.55.63.8
Robbery65.968.341.6757.8642.4283.359.742.937.877.149.635
Aggravated assault111.1165.4158.5352.9679.4438.9130.1156.9181.147.074.666.2
Property crime index**2251.62341.01343.44885.94412.62595.22759.12566.71829.11693.81248.8728.6
Burglary708.9492.0257.21449.0765.9417.4686.0485.9293.8364.7208.395.9
Larceny-theft1320.71565.9947.63017.72731.51781.11799.11783.31341.71155.6856.8560.1
Motor vehicle theft191.9252.5108.9388.8882.1368.9256.2272.8165164.7176.065.3
Arson30.230.529.730.433.027.817.924.628.68.87.77.3
Other assaults243.6421.3594.0682.91288.01517.8257.7430.1724.4171.4253.7222.9
Vandalism445.9480.8333.8376.5542.4334.8308.3358.3334114.8152.393.8
Weapons carrying, possessing, etc.78.2112.398.5176.2354.5221.974.054.686.947.361.339.1
Drug abuse violations386.2188.0573.2375.1966.91004.0208.2107.7463.6107.654.4168.2
Driving under the influence125.584.671.819.816.316.2128.697.688.912.511.014.6
Liquor laws589.5666.9488.680.2162.2116.2608.91033.5975.178.2102.887.1
Drunkenness168.498.072.543.855.428.9369.5124.197.816.08.28.1
Disorderly conduct405.1376.0419.4767.1931.81153.6414.9276.3462.451.388.3110.4
Curfew and loitering law violations236.9304.0410294.3439.1734.3356.2283.0350.585.2187.8177.4
Runaways512.5622.7396.9499.7658.6469.1684.9695.9447.5316.9362.5457

FIGURE 8.4

Historically, the states relied mainly on a judge's decision to waive delinquents to adult criminal court, but between 1992 and 1997 all but six states enacted laws that made it easier for more juveniles to be transferred. As a consequence, all states have some provisions to try juveniles as adults in criminal court. In 1999 fourteen states and the District of Columbia had laws that allowed prosecutors to decide in some cases whether to file in juvenile or criminal court.

FIGURE 8.5

Twenty-nine states had laws that required certain juvenile offenders to be waived to criminal court. The number of juvenile cases waived to criminal court more than doubled between 1985 and 1994, the peak year, and then declined 58% through 2000. (See Figure 8.7.) In 2000 more offenses against persons were referred to criminal court (2,200) than any other, followed by property offenses (2,000).

FIGURE 8.6

Does the Practice Make a Difference?

An OJJDP study released in 2000 explored the issue of transferring juvenile offenders to adult criminal courts and the impact on recidivism (reoffending) (H. Snyder, M. Sickmund, and E. Poe-Yamagata, Juvenile Transfers to Criminal Court in the 1990s: Lessons Learned from Four Studies). The authors of the study discuss research from the 1990s that compared the recidivism rate of juveniles transferred to adult court with the rate of juveniles who were retained in the juvenile system. The research showed that transfers to adult court were more likely than juveniles kept in juvenile court to reoffend within two years. A six-year follow-up study showed that there was no difference between the groups in the proportion of offenders who reoffended, but the transferred juveniles who reoffended did so more quickly and more often than the retained juveniles who reoffended. In explaining these results, the authors found that transfer to adult court is usually reserved for the most serious cases and the most serious juvenile offenders. In making the decision to waive a juvenile offender, judges tended to look upon a history of reoffending after serving time in a correctional facility as a key factor.

Changing Philosophies

Traditionally, the philosophical difference between juvenile delinquency proceedings and adult criminal proceedings was that the juvenile offender was viewed as misguided and correctable rather than as criminal. Juveniles were considered "delinquent," not guilty; they received treatment, not punishment. Juvenile proceedings took place in a closed court to protect the offender and his or her family, and there were wide discretionary powers for probation officers, the court, and correction agencies,

FIGURE 8.7

depending upon a youth's history. Long-term incarceration was rare, and cases were disposed of quickly with a broad range of disposition alternatives.

The new trend in juvenile justice is to process juveniles as adults. If they are treated like adults, chronic offenders may receive adult sentences, removing them from society, avoiding the notion of rehabilitation, and replacing it with punishment for a crime committed. On the other hand, in an adult court juveniles are entitled to open courtroom proceedings and jury trials, and they avoid a closed system controlled by one judge.

OPENING JUVENILE RECORDS

Traditionally, juvenile hearings were closed to the public and the records were sealed based on the belief that delinquent behavior by a child should not be held against him or her for the rest of his or her life, but many states are now allowing more openness. According to the National Center for Juvenile Justice, in 2002 twenty-one states required that under certain conditions delinquency hearings be open to the public, and fifteen states had laws that closed all delinquency hearings to the public. Forty-three states required that police departments notify school officials when a student was charged with a crime.

STATUS OFFENSE CASES

Status offenses are behaviors that are law violations only when committed by a juvenile (such as possession of alcohol, truancy, and running away from home). According to the OJJDP, juvenile courts formally handled an estimated 158,500 status offense cases in 1997 (the latest year for which statistics are available). In many communities social service agencies rather than juvenile courts have assumed responsibility for status offenders. National estimates of informally handled status offense cases are not calculated because of differences in screening procedures. The statistics, therefore, focus on formally handled (petitioned) status offense cases.

In 1997 approximately 26% of petitioned status offenses involved a liquor law violation, 26% a truancy charge, 13% ungovernability, and 15% runaway charges. Other types of status offenses, such as curfew violations, accounted for the remaining 20%. Between 1993 and 1997 the rate for runaway cases increased 14%, truancy grew by 14%, liquor law violations rose by 39%, and the case rate for ungovernability offenses increased 35%. The nation's juvenile courts processed 5.5 cases for every one thousand juveniles in the population in 1997.

The FBI reported that more than 55% of formal status offense cases in 1997 involved youths fifteen years old or younger. The most common offense in this age group was truancy (34%), while older youths most often violated the liquor laws (42%).

CHILDREN IN CUSTODY

There are many different types of facilities for delinquent youth, including juvenile detention centers, shelters, reception and diagnostic centers, training schools, and group homes. Not all youths placed in these facilities are accused delinquent and status offenders, however. Some are placed for treatment or as a result of abuse, dependency, or neglect. Others are held temporarily while arrangements are being made.

Prisons and Jails

According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) survey, in 1998 1.4% of 592,462 individuals confined in adult jails were seventeen or younger. The number of juveniles confined in the adult jails surveyed increased 366% between 1983 and 1998. The BJS survey revealed that 0.4% (4,775) of one million prisoners confined in state prisons in 1998 were juveniles. Most state prison systems house juveniles. Florida and Connecticut had the highest numbers of juvenile prisoners in adult prisons (572 and 505, respectively), and Hawaii and Rhode Island had the lowest numbers (two and zero, respectively). About 23% of the youths were being held as adjudicated juvenile offenders or pretrial detainees, while 75% had been sentenced as adults.

HOLDING PARENTS RESPONSIBLE

Many Americans became frustrated by the rising juvenile crime rates in the 1980s and early 1990s. In response, communities and states passed laws holding parents responsible for their children's actions. According to the National Center for Juvenile Justice, a nonprofit research organization, at the end of the 1998 legislative session, thirty-four states had statutes that made parents of delinquent children liable to the victim of the crime. Thirty-nine states had statutes that either allowed or required parents of delinquents to participate in treatment, counseling, or probation with their children.

All states have laws that make it mandatory or optional for the court to require parents to pay at least some of the costs for a child who is delinquent and placed out of the home. Some have laws that hold parents partially responsible for their children's delinquent behavior. A Louisiana law allows parents to be fined up to $1,000 and imprisoned for up to six months if they are found guilty of "improper supervision of a minor" (for example, if the child is associating with drug dealers, members of a street gang, or convicted felons). In 1995 Judge Wayne Creech of Family Court in Columbia, South Carolina, ordered that a fifteen-year-old girl with a history of shoplifting and truancy be chained to her mother for one month. A Florida mother was convicted of truancy and sentenced to a year's probation because three of her five children refused to go to school.

CURFEWS

Because of the rise in rates of juvenile crime from the 1980s through the mid-1990s, many of the nation's jurisdictions imposed youth curfews. A 2000 survey of 490 cities by the National League of Cities found that 69% (337) had nighttime curfews and 14% (68) had daytime curfews. Thirty-five of the cities surveyed reported that they were considering adopting a curfew.

Most curfew laws restrict juveniles to their home or property between the hours of 11p.m. and 6 a.m. weekdays, allowing them to stay out later on weekends. The laws allow exceptions for young people going to and from school, church events, or work, and for youths who have a family emergency or are accompanied by their parents. Critics of such ordinances argue that they violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and abridge parental rights. The critics also argue that no studies have proven the effectiveness of curfew laws.

Court Rulings on Curfews

In 1994 the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that a Dallas, Texas, curfew law was constitutional. But in 2003 the Washington State Supreme Court struck down the city of Sumner's curfew law (Walsh v. City of Sumner [No. 71451–7]). The court ruled that Sumner's curfew ordinance, which makes it unlawful for juveniles to "remain" in a public place during certain hours, is unconstitutionally vague because "it does not provide 'ascertainable standards for locating the line between innocent and unlawful behavior.'" The court noted that "it may be difficult for a city to draft a curfew ordinance that is not unconstitutionally vague" because "curfew ordinances attempt to make activities that are normally considered innocent, unlawful, i.e., walking, driving, going to the store." And in July 2004 the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana issued an injunction prohibiting enforcement of Indiana's juvenile curfew law.

Do Curfews Reduce Crime?

The U.S. Conference of Mayors conducted a 1997 survey of 276 cities with a nighttime youth curfew and asked city officials how they felt about it. Officials in nine out of ten of the cities thought that curfew enforcement was a good use of police officers' time; 88% felt that enforcing a curfew made their city's streets safer; and 83% said curfews help curb gang violence. Of the 154 cities that had had their curfew in effect for ten years or less, officials in 53% of them noted a decrease in juvenile crime (attributed by them to the curfew), 11% saw no change, and 10% saw an increase in juvenile crime (the remaining 26% of cities had no data on the curfew's effects available because of its recent implementation).

However, the effects of curfews on juvenile crime rates are still controversial. In their study entitled "An Analysis of Curfew Enforcement and Juvenile Crime in California" (Western Criminology Review, 1999), Mike Males and Dan Macallair concluded that there was "no support for the proposition that stricter curfew enforcement reduces youth crime or risk of violent fatality…. Curfew enforcement generally has no discernible effect on youth crime." A national study done by David McDowall, Colin Loftin, and Brian Wiersma also found that curfew laws had little effect on juvenile arrests ("The Impact of Youth Curfew Laws on Juvenile Crime Rates," Crime and Delinquency, 2000).

YOUTH GANGS

The modern street gang takes many forms. Individual members, gang cliques, or entire gang organizations may traffic in drugs; operate car theft rings; commit shootings, assaults, robbery, extortion, and other felonies; and terrorize neighborhoods. The most ambitious gangs spread out from their home jurisdictions to other cities and states. Many are supported by the sale of crack cocaine, heroin, and other illegal drugs, and they often have relatively easy access to high-powered guns and rifles. Furthermore, in many impoverished and transitional neighborhoods, children are born into or must contend with second- and third-generation street gangs.

Defining Gangs

Attempts to collect data about gangs at the national level have been complicated by the fact that definitions differ as to what constitutes a gang. The 1998 National Youth Gang Survey asked law enforcement officials about the characteristics they consider important in defining a youth gang. The characteristics most often named were that a gang:

  • Commits crimes together.
  • Has a name.
  • Hangs out together.
  • Claims a turf or territory of some sort.
  • Displays/wears common colors or other insignia.
  • Has a leader or several leaders.

In the 2002 National Youth Gang Survey, a gang was defined as "a group of youths or young adults in [the respondent's] jurisdiction that [the respondent] or other responsible persons in [the respondent's] agency or community are willing to identify or classify as a 'gang.'" The survey respondents (law enforcement agents) were instructed to exclude motorcycle gangs, hate or ideology groups, prison gangs, and exclusively adult gangs.

Young Juveniles in Gangs

Gangs sometimes serve as families for children whose own families are dysfunctional. Gang members have said there is often little need to intimidate youngsters in order to recruit them because they know what children need and are willing to provide it in return for their commitment. Gangs provide emotional support, shelter, and clothing—in essence, just what the child's family may not be providing. However, some children are intimidated into joining gangs either out of fear or for protection from other gangs.

A Pervasive Problem

According to the OJJDP, only nineteen states reported gang problems in the 1970s, but by the late 1990s youth gangs were reported in all fifty states and the District of Columbia (The Growth of Youth Gang Problems in the United States: 1970–98, April 2001). By 1998, 3,700 localities—including about 2,550 cities, towns, and villages, and 1,150 counties—had reported gang problems. Between the mid-1990s and 2002, however, there was a steady decline in reported gang problems, particularly in suburban counties and small cities. (See Figure 8.8.)

Traditionally, gangs were big-city problems. It is still true that the larger the population of a city the greater the likelihood that gangs operate in that city. But gangs have spread to small towns, villages, and rural areas that often do not have their own police departments. In 2002 there were active youth gangs in all of the nation's largest cities, 87% of mid-size cities (with populations between 100,000 and 249,000), 38% percent of suburban counties, 27% of small cities (population below 25,000), and 12% of rural counties. The OJJDP estimated that 21,500 gangs were operating in the United States in 2002, with 731,500 members.

FIGURE 8.8

Portrait of the Modern Youth Gang

The authors of "Hybrid and Other Modern Gangs" examined survey data and the latest research to offer a portrait of the modern youth gang. The stereotypical view holds that youth gangs are tightly organized groups comprised of African-American or Hispanic inner-city males operating under strict codes of conduct with explicit punishments for infractions of the rules. The new "hybrid" gangs may have as members people of both genders, from different racial groups, espousing radically opposing viewpoints; for example, the authors note, a modern gang might be made up of African-Americans, white supremacists, and girls. The gangs are found in schools and the military and in territories as small as shopping malls. Rules or codes of conduct may be unclear. Hybrid gangs sometimes borrow the symbols, graffiti, and even the names of established Los Angeles- or Chicago-based organizations (Bloods and Crips, Black Gangster Disciples, or Vice Lords, for example) but are actually locally based and have no connection to those organizations. Rival gangs may cooperate in criminal activity and mergers of small gangs are common.

The 1998 National Youth Gang Survey reported that an estimated 36% of youth gangs had members from two or more racial or ethnic groups, and that small cities, particularly in the Midwest, had the largest proportion of gangs with mixed race/ethnicity. Other studies show that in most cases the modern adolescent may refuse to join a gang without fear of reprisal, even though gangs try to maintain the illusion that leaving is impossible. OJJDP-supported longitudinal studies in Denver, Colorado (1988–99), Rochester, New York (1986–97), and the Seattle Social Development Project in Seattle (1985–2001) showed that well over half (54–69%) of youths who joined gangs in those cities remained for one year or less, while only 9–21% stayed for three or more years.

According to "Hybrid and Other Modern Gangs," in places where gangs are a fairly recent phenomenon, drug sales and distribution are less likely to be major problems. Gang member involvement in drug sales is most prevalent in areas where gangs emerged between 1981 and 1985, at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic. Highly organized, entrepreneurial, gang control of drug distribution across wide areas—and the violent crime that goes with it—are associated with the gangs that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s in Los Angeles and Chicago.

Court Rulings on Gang Loitering

In order to combat the rise in violent and drug-related crime, which was attributed to a rise in criminal street gang activity, the city of Chicago enacted a Gang Congregation Ordinance in 1992. The ordinance prohibited "criminal street gang members from loitering with one another or with other persons in any public place," regardless of whether the others were fellow gang members. Police officers were required to order any group of people standing around "with no apparent purpose" to move along if the officers believed at least one of them belonged to a street gang. The ordinance had considerable support in the high-crime neighborhoods in which it was implemented. During the three years the law was in effect, more than 42,000 people were arrested for refusing to obey police orders to move along. The ordinance was struck down in 2001 when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with a lower court that it was unconstitutionally vague and encompassed a great deal of harmless behavior (Chicago v. Morales [No. 97–1121]).

HOMICIDE

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, death rates from homicide doubled from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, fell in the mid-1980s, rose again in the late 1980s, then declined sharply through 2001, reaching an overall rate of 7.1 per one hundred thousand people, including those who died in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But beginning in the mid-1980s the number of teens involved in homicide as either victims and perpetrators rose dramatically. In 2001 homicides were the fourth-leading cause of death in children younger than five years old; the fourth-leading cause for children five to fourteen; and the second-leading cause in fifteen- to twenty-four-year-olds. The youngest victims were more likely to know the perpetrator than adult victims were. More than one-quarter of the victims of gang-related murders were under the age of eighteen. Between 1976 and 1999 children made up 9.8% of the victims of homicide; 10.7% of offenders were under eighteen.

Homicide rates among teens vary dramatically by race. In 2000 young African-Americans of both sexes ages fifteen to twenty-four were six times more likely (20.5 per one hundred thousand) than young whites (3.3 per one hundred thousand) to be murdered. Young African-American men are particularly vulnerable. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 85.7 out of every one hundred thousand African-American males ages fifteen to twenty-four were victims of homicide, down from a high of 137.1 per one hundred thousand in 1990 (National Vital Statistics Reports, vol. 52, no. 9, November 7, 2003).

Trends in Gang Homicides

The number of youth gang homicides declined in the 1990s, but the trends varied by city and also varied between the early and later parts of the decade, according to the OJJDP report "Youth Gang Homicides in the 1990s" (March 2001). From 1990 to 1996 the total number of homicides decreased by 256 (almost 15%) in the 408 cities surveyed, from 1,748 to 1,492 incidents.

Although the total number of gang-related homicides was down even further in 2002 (1,232), 91 out of 142 cities reported at least one gang-related homicide. Los Angeles and Chicago reported more gang-related homicides (655) than the other 89 cities combined (577). In those two cities approximately half the homicides were gang-related.

GUNS AND VIOLENCE

Schools, neighborhoods, and even private homes can be dangerous places for children and adolescents. Knives, handguns, and shotguns turn up in searches of school lockers. News reports describe incidents of children being shot on playgrounds or of youths firing rifles as they cruise the streets in cars. M. H. Swahn et al., in "Prevalence of Youth Access to Alcohol or a Gun in the Home" (Injury Prevention, 2002), found that nearly one-quarter (24.3%) of adolescents ages twelve to eighteen have easy access to a gun in their homes.

From 1983 to 1994 gun homicides by juveniles tripled, while homicides involving other types of weapons decreased. (See Figure 8.9.) Between 1994 and 1997, however, gun homicides by young people declined sharply, back to approximately 1989 levels.

FIGURE 8.9

Young Homicide Victims

In 2002, 1,357 youths under age eighteen were murdered—9.7% of all homicides that year. (See Table 8.5.) A slightly higher percentage of young victims were white (50.8%) than African-American (45%). Almost two-thirds of the young victims (63.9%) were male and one-third (36%) were female. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Injury Fact Book 2001–2002), in 1998 82% of homicide victims under age eighteen were killed with guns.

Firearm Deaths among Children and Youth

The teen death rate for firearm-related injuries more than doubled between 1970 and 1995 before beginning to decline. During those peak years, the overwhelming majority of deaths among young African-American males were firearm-associated, and American teenage boys were more likely to die from gunshot wounds than from all natural causes combined. In 2001 more than one out of every five deaths among all fifteen- to twenty-four-year-olds and half of all deaths among African-American males fifteen to twenty-four were caused by firearms.

Carrying a Weapon

The 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that 17.1% of all students in grades nine through twelve claimed to have carried a weapon at least once within the previous thirty days, and 6.1% had carried a gun. (See Table 8.6.) Males were significantly more likely to carry a

TABLE 8.5

Murder victims age 24 and under, by age, sex, and race, 2002
Sex Race
Age Total Male Female Unknown White Black Other Unknown
1Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
2Does not include unknown ages.
source: Adapted from "Table 2.5. Murder Victims by Age, Sex and Race, 2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2003, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_02/pdf/2sectiontwo.pdf (accessed September 16, 2004)
Total 14,054 10,779 3,251 24 6,757 6,730 377 190
Percent distribution1100.076.723.10.248.147.92.71.4
Under 1821,35786748916896104513
Under 2223,3982,62477221,5811,68310430
18 and over212,4069,7032,69945,9456,009331121
Infant (under 1)180968401027143
1 to 43281801471176134144
5 to 88635510503330
9 to 129250420533540
13 to 163902811090180196113
17 to 191,1841,01816605196153911
20 to 242,7562,35639821,1151,5605823

weapon (26.9%) than females (6.7%), and males were even more likely than females to carry a gun (10.2% and 1.6%, respectively). Non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic African-American, and Hispanic students were equally likely to carry a weapon.

Tracing "Crime Guns"

Rising rates of violent crime involving the use of firearms in the late 1980s and early 1990s led the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to initiate the Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative in 1996. In 2000 law enforcement agencies in the forty-four large cities that participated in the program submitted 88,570 trace requests on "crime guns" to the ATF's National Tracing Center. Firearms were traced to the point of original sale as one component of the national effort to reduce youth violence involving firearms.

In 2002 the ATF announced the results of these year-2000 traces (Crime Gun Trace Reports 2000 National Report, July 2002). More than 18,000 crime guns (20%) had been confiscated from youths ages eighteen to twenty-four, the peak years of age for being a crime gun possessor. Juveniles made up 8% of crime gun possessors (4,112 guns). Six of every ten handguns confiscated from youths and juveniles were semiautomatic pistols, slightly higher than the five of every ten confiscated from adults. Most of the crime guns had been obtained from firearm traffickers, who illegally sell new, used, or stolen weapons. The serial numbers had been obliterated from most of the traced guns, indicating that someone in the chain of possession assumed that the gun would be used for a crime. The ATF investigation revealed that nearly a third of the crime guns had entered the retail market between December 1996 and December 1997. This short "time to crime" indicated the ease with which a criminal could "fence" (sell a stolen item to a third party) a gun and the pervasiveness of the illegal firearms market.

Weapons Offenses

Weapons offenses are violations of local, state, and/or federal statutes or regulations that control deadly weapons. Deadly weapons include firearms and their ammunition, silencers, explosives, and certain knives. Between 1985 and 1993 the juvenile arrest rate for weapon offenses more than doubled, from about ninety per one hundred thousand juveniles to about 225 per one hundred thousand. After the peak in 1993, however, the rate of arrests declined sharply to about 1985 levels by 2000. (See Figure 8.10.)

Teenage males arrested for weapons offenses in 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2001 far outnumbered females arrested. (See Table 8.2 and Table 8.3.) However, between 1980 and 2001 the arrest rate for weapons offenses increased two-and-a-half times for females age ten to seventeen, from 10.6 to 25.4 arrests per one hundred thousand; at the same time the rate for males only increased from 169.8 to 197.7 arrests per one hundred thousand. (See Table 8.7.) In 1980 the rate for males was sixteen times that for females; in 2000 the rate for males was not quite eight times that for females.

Survey Results: Teens and Violence

The largest survey of teens ever undertaken in the United States, "Protecting Adolescents from Harm: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health" (Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 278, no. 10, September 1997), was conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the University of Minnesota. The researchers questioned 90,000 students in grades seven through

TABLE 8.6

Percentage of high school students who carried a weapon1 or a gun2, by sex, race, ethnicity, and grade, 2003
Carried a weapon Carried a gun
Category Female
%
Male
%
Total
%
Female
%
Male
%
Total
%
1For example, a gun, knife, or club on ≥ 1 of the 30 days preceding the survey.
2On ≥ 1 of the 30 days preceding the survey.
3Non-Hispanic.
source: "Table 6. Percentage of High School Students Who Carried a Weapon or a Gun, by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and Grade," in "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2003," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Surveillance Summaries: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 53, no. SS–02, May 21, 2004, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS5302.pdf (accessed September 16, 2004)
Race/ethnicity
White35.527.116.71.510.05.9
Black39.824.917.31.410.66.0
Hispanic8.524.316.52.68.25.4
Grade
98.826.618.02.19.35.8
105.226.515.91.410.45.9
116.829.215.21.610.06.3
125.225.215.51.010.05.7
Total 6.7 26.9 17.1 1.6 10.2 6.1

twelve at 145 schools around the country. They found that almost one-fourth of students surveyed had easy access to guns at home. Adolescents living in homes where guns were kept were more likely to behave violently and more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide.

Teens who said they had strong family ties were less likely to be involved in interpersonal violence than those who said they did not have close family ties. Older teens (ninth through twelfth grades) who had a parent present at breakfast, after school, at dinner, and at bedtime were also less likely to behave violently.

More than 10% of males and 5% of females interviewed said they had committed a violent act in the previous year. These acts included participating in fights, injuring someone, threatening someone with a weapon, using a weapon in a fight, or shooting or stabbing someone.

Younger teens (seventh and eighth graders) more often reported having been involved in violent activities than older teens. Urban teens, teens whose families received welfare, and Native American teens seemed more likely than others to have been involved in violence. About one in eight students said that they had brought a weapon to school in the month prior to being surveyed.

VICTIMIZATION OF JUVENILES

Teenagers and young adults—especially African-Americans—are the most likely groups to become victims of violent crime. In 2002 the rate of serious violent crime ranged from a high of more than 58.2 per one thousand

FIGURE 8.10

persons ages sixteen to nineteen to a low of 3.4 per one thousand persons age sixty-five or older (Callie Marie Rennison and Michael R. Rand, "Table 6. Rates of Violent Crime and Personal Theft, by Gender, Age, Race, and Hispanic Origin, 2002," in "Criminal Victimization, 2002," National Crime Victimization Survey, NCJ 199994, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justic Statistics, Washington, DC, August 2003).

JAMES ALAN FOX EXAMINES TRENDS IN JUVENILE VIOLENCE

Juvenile Violent Crime Rate Jumps in the Late 1980s to Mid-1990s

The late 1980s to 1994 saw a tremendous rise in violent crimes committed by juveniles and in the homicide victimization of teens and young adults. In 1996 James Alan Fox, Ph.D., of Northeastern University wrote in Trends in Juvenile Violence: A Report to the United States Attorney General on Current and Future Rates of Juvenile Offending (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, DC) that there were two violent crime trends ongoing in America—one for the young and one for the mature. These trends, Fox theorized, were moving in opposite directions.

For example, between 1990 and 1994, the rate of homicide committed by adults age twenty-five and older declined 18% as the baby boomers matured into their middle-age years. At the same time, however, the homicide rate among teens ages fourteen to seventeen increased

TABLE 8.7

Juvenile arrest rates by offense and gender, selected years, 1980–2001
Offense 1980 1990 2001
Total including suspicion7414.38032.26889.8
Violent crime index*334.1428.4296.1
Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter6.411.94.3
Forcible rape15.921.813.8
Robbery167.5155.380.8
Aggravated assault144.3239.4197.1
Property crime index**2562.22563.41499.1
Burglary794.2513.2270.3
Larceny-theft1520.91677.61053.3
Motor vehicle theft221.9347.1150.3
Arson25.225.625.3
Other assaults299.8537.8717
Vandalism398.3450.1309.8
Weapons carrying, possessing, etc.91.9146.8113.9
Drug abuse violations383.7304.2623.4
Driving under the influence109.371.858.4
Liquor laws511.4577.3413.5
Drunkenness150.488.062.1
Disorderly conduct447.8443.8521.3
Curfew and loitering law violations245.0319.9449.3
Runaways502.5620.1403.7
Juvenile male arrest rates (arrests of males ages 10–17/100,000 males ages 10–17)
Offense 1980 1990 2001
Total including suspicion11543.212091.99587.8
Violent crime index*586.7735.7470.9
Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter11.622.07.5
Forcible rape30.641.726.6
Robbery305.1276.8143.9
Aggravated assault239.4395.2292.9
Property crime index**4081.93903.11993.8
Burglary1456.7920.6463.2
Larceny-theft2190.82333.31244.8
Motor vehicle theft390.4604.3242.9
Arson44.144.943
Other assaults462.7803.1949.1
Vandalism717.2802.9523.6
Weapons carrying, possessing, etc.169.8268.1197.7
Drug abuse violations626.5526.91027.7
Driving under the influence191.7120.393.5
Liquor laws773.4808.3546.1
Drunkenness253.9145.095.4
Disorderly conduct722.0687.0710.1
Curfew and loitering law violations368.7453.3603.4
Runaways401.4522.4317.3

22% at a time when the population in this age group was declining. Between 1985 and 1994 the rate of homicide committed by teenagers aged fourteen to seventeen years increased 172%. For African-American males the rate of increase was 261 percent. In 1994 African-American males ages fourteen to twenty-four made up slightly more than 1% of the population yet were 17% of the victims of homicide and 30% of the perpetrators of homicide.

Fox also found a rise in the number of killings among family and friends. Guns, he reasoned, made it easy for juveniles to have deadly disputes over small matters such as a pair of athletic shoes or a dirty look. Also, he stated that while the negative impact of drugs, guns, and gang culture became more threatening, the positive socializing forces of family, school, religion, and neighborhood became weaker. The problem of unsupervised youth was reflected in the time-of-day patterns of juvenile violence. The prime time for juvenile crime was during the after-school hours.

*Violent crime index includes murder & nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.
**Property crime index includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.
Note: Persons of Hispanic ethnicity may by of any race. Arrests of Hispanics are not reported separately.
source: Adapted from "Juvenile Arrest Rates by Offense, Sex, and Race (1980–2001)," National Center for Juvenile Justice, May 31, 2003, http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org/ojstatbb/excel/JAR_053103.xls (accessed July 29, 2004)
Juvenile female arrest rates (arrests of females ages 10–17/100,000 females ages 10–17)
Offense 1980 1990 2001
Total including suspicion3104.13754.04041.7
Violent crime index*70.4104.6111.6
Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter1.01.20.9
Forcible rape0.60.80.4
Robbery23.827.314.3
Aggravated assault45.075.396
Property crime index**975.71151.7976.9
Burglary102.684.066.6
Larceny-theft821.6986.6851.1
Motor vehicle theft45.975.952.6
Arson5.65.26.6
Other assaults129.7258.2471.9
Vandalism65.478.484.1
Weapons carrying, possessing, etc.10.619.025.4
Drug abuse violations130.369.4196.7
Driving under the influence23.220.721.4
Liquor laws237.9333.8273.5
Drunkenness42.328.027
Disorderly conduct161.6187.4321.8
Curfew and loitering law violations115.8179.4286.5
Runaways608.1723.2494.9

Dire Predictions in 1996

Fox concluded that too many teenagers, particularly teens in urban areas, were plagued with idleness and even hopelessness. A growing number of teens and preteens saw few feasible or attractive alternatives to violence, drug use, and gang membership. Fox believed that this generation of youth had more dangerous drugs in their bodies, more deadly weapons in their hands, and a seemingly more casual attitude toward violence than previous generations. He predicted in his 1996 report that youth violence would worsen because by the year 2005 the number of teens ages fourteen to seventeen was predicted to be 20% higher than the 1994 level.

Facing the Future—The Rise of Teen Drug Abuse and Teen Violence (Committee on the Judiciary and International Narcotics Control Caucus, Washington, DC, 1995) also warned, "Not only are we facing a rise in violent crime by children, but we are also facing a rising number of children. The combination adds up to expectations that our nation will face an unprecedented number of crimes committed by juveniles."

Predictions Revised in the Face of a Decline in Juvenile Crime

The ominous predictions Fox made in 1996 did not come true. According to the FBI, the juvenile arrest rate for murder fell 74% between 1993 and 2000. Fox wrote two follow-ups to his 1996 report. In Trends in Juvenile Violence: 1997 Update, Fox warned that teen violence had not disappeared—the rates of homicide had fallen but remained at levels twice as high as in the 1980s. In Homicide Trends in the United States: 2000 Update, Fox and his colleagues wrote that teen homicide rates had fallen to levels not seen since the late 1960s, "reversing one of the most dramatic trends in homicide victimization."

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Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice

In the early twenty-first century most people assumed juveniles would be treated differently than adults in the U.S. criminal justice system. This distinction did not come to pass until the end of the nineteenth century. In criminal justice, juveniles are youths who are not old enough to be held fully responsible for their crimes. Juvenile justice is largely a state matter and is separate from the regular adult criminal justice system.

Most states set the age of eighteen as when a person assumes the responsibilities of being an adult in criminal law. Some states send youth as young as seven to juvenile courts. Though there are federal juvenile laws for persons under age eighteen, for youths accused of committing federal crimes, this is a very minor part of criminal law.

Juvenile courts have jurisdiction over children in three basic kinds of situations: (1) when they are accused of conduct that would be a crime by an adult; (2) when parents or guardians abuse or neglect them or when they are in need; and, (3) when they violate rules that apply only to juveniles, called status offenses. Status offenses include unapproved absence from schools (truancy), running away, alcohol and tobacco use, or refusing to obey parents. Juveniles who commit acts considered adult crimes are referred to as delinquents.

Juvenile courts also perform duties such as determining paternity and child support, or custody in divorce cases (where a child lives and how often he or she visits the other parent). In adoption cases, the court grants parental rights to foster parents or guardians.

Juvenile court procedures are less formal than those in adult criminal courts. For status offenders and delinquents, rather than punish the offenders, juvenile courts seek to rehabilitate, supervise, or provide counseling. Treatment of juveniles is usually more lenient than for adults. The purpose is to protect youth and guide them to more productive lives while still holding them accountable to some degree for their actions.


Changing social attitudes toward children

Determining the minimum age of responsibility for criminal actions has been a problem throughout history. Until the nineteenth century the public considered children below seven years of age incapable of crime, while those above seven were considered adults and responsible for their actions. Children over seven years of age could face criminal charges and, if convicted, be placed in adult prisons. They faced the same punishment as adults including whipping, branding, and hanging. At times, however, courts informally considered an offender's age in their deliberations, especially those under fourteen.

Many social changes, however, occurred throughout the nineteenth century including perceptions of children and how they should be punished for committing criminal acts. Children began to be viewed as different from adults, since their thoughts and decisions were made in a different manner than adults. They were innocent and vulnerable to bad influences since they had not gained wisdom from experience. Because of this innocence, it was believed states should not hold them accountable for their actions. Rather than being punished, youthful offenders needed to be reformed and educated.

Reformers

In the 1800s the Child Savers Movement was dedicated to improving the conditions of children in America. They promoted free public education and child labor laws restricting the use of children in factories. Social reformers in the nineteenth century were distressed that youngsters charged with crimes were placed in facilities along with hardened adult criminals. Reformers claimed children who came out of prison were more likely to turn to a life of crime or be harmful to society. Most states created work farms and reform schools for children convicted of crimes.

During the nineteenth century, juvenile crime rates were low and not considered a major issue. With rapid population growth, however, both in city size and through east European immigration, children faced serious neglect and poverty. Uneducated children who lived in poverty were likely to commit crimes, and reformers believed they were a threat to not only themselves but to the nation as well.

Reformers hoped supervision of children whose parents worked long hours in factories would help prevent crime. They turned to the English common law concept of parens patriae, where the government had the right to become the parent of children in need, to save them from terrible living conditions and protect them from criminal influences. The government was responsible for shaping the habits and morals of juveniles.


Juvenile courts

Reformers including Chicago social worker Jane Addams (1860–1935) argued for a separate legal system for juveniles to teach them the proper way to behave. Some supported this idea for the sake of the children, others simply feared immigrant street youths. As a result, Illinois was the first state to establish a separate court system for juveniles in 1899. In these new courts, specially trained judges had many choices in how to deal with youthful offenders.

Judges acting like parents instead of doling out harsh punishment dominated for the next century. During this period, the law defined a juvenile as a person less than sixteen years of age. Rather than prosecute juveniles for a crime, courts placed them in reform schools or with foster parents. These juveniles then remained under court supervision until age twenty-one.

To further reduce the stigma of formal courts, the terms used in juvenile proceedings were borrowed from civil rather than criminal courts. For example, prosecutors charged juvenile offenders using petitions rather than indictments. Juveniles were not arraigned before the court upon their arrest, but given an intake hearing instead. In addition, court proceedings were not called trials, but hearings. Juveniles, rather than being found guilty, were ruled delinquent. Less proof was needed to find a youth delinquent, called a "preponderance of evidence," rather than the criminal court's requirement of an evidence level considered to be "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Juvenile Crime Statistics

The National Center for Juvenile Justice offered the following statistics on their Internet Web site for 1999: law enforcement arrested some 2.4 million juveniles, and for every 1,000 juvenile delinquency cases handled, 238 resulted in probation and 93 received residential placement.

On a given day, October 27, 1999, nearly 109,000 juveniles were held in residential placement nationwide. Of all juveniles who went to court, about 25 percent were charged with violent crimes. Fifty-seven percent of the juvenile cases were handled formally through court proceedings and 43 percent were handled informally by law officers or court workers.

Of the status offenses, about 25 percent of runaway cases, 40 percent of those judged unruly, 34 percent of alcohol cases, and 47 percent of truancy cases resulted in formal probation. For all offenses committed in the United States in 1999, juvenilescommitted 16 percent of the violent crimes, or 68,000 arrests, and 32 percent of property crimes. Property offenses tended to occur in mid-teen years and violent offenses in later teen years. Juveniles comprised almost 28 percent of all arrests with juvenile males accounting for over 16 percent of total male arrests and juvenile females almost 22 percent of all female arrests.

About 1 percent of all juvenile cases are transferred to adult criminal court. Of those, 55 percent were black Americans and 90 percent were male. Of those transferred to adult courts, 75 percent resulted in prison sentences. Of those sent to prison 61 percent were for violent crimes, 22 percent for property crimes, and 16 percent for drug or other public disorder crimes. Approximately 2 percent of the adult prison population is teens, amounting to some 15,400 juveniles. Some states had only a few juveniles in prison, while Florida and Connecticut had over 500.

Black Americans made up 15 percent of the U.S. juvenile population in 1999 but accounted for 25 percent of all juvenile arrests, almost 41 percent of violent crimes, and over 27 percent of property crimes.

In determining treatment for young offenders, courts tried to take the best interest of the juvenile into account. Protecting the constitutional rights of the child was not a concern, since the court was supposed to be acting on his or her behalf. Rather than hearing arguments by attorneys, judges made decisions based on the facts presented by the plaintiff and a background investigation of the juvenile.

By 1925 almost all states had juvenile systems using the Illinois law as a model. Although varying slightly from state to state, eighteen generally became the age of transition from juvenile to adult criminal courts. Much of the twentieth century was a period in which the courts and the public clearly favored rehabilitation over punishment for youth. The states increasingly intervened in family issues, creating status offenses in addition to criminal laws. The government considered these lesser violations to be a stepping-stone to criminal behavior.

Into the 1960s juvenile justice remained informal and flexible, records were kept confidential, and the media was not allowed in the courtroom. The court kept only two records, the original police report and the report of a probation officer who interviewed anyone familiar with the juvenile and the case. During the hearing, the judge would question the juvenile defendant and witnesses; unlike other courts, however, the juvenile did not have the right to an attorney or to cross-examine witnesses.

In 1947 Congress passed the federal Juvenile Courts Act to establish a more consistent informal process for juveniles among the states and to emphasize treatment (rehabilitation) over punishment.

Changes in the system

Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, thoughts on how to treat juveniles in the criminal justice system changed as the public became increasingly concerned about delinquent behavior. Some states changed to a more formal and harsher process in the 1950s as criticism of the juvenile system increased.

In the 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court issued several rulings strengthening civil liberty protections in adult criminal courts. Supporters of juvenile justice feared youthful offenders were not benefiting from such decisions because of the informality of the juvenile court system. By protecting juveniles from the harshness of the adult system, they were being denied their constitutional protections as well. As a result, adults enjoyed more constitutional safeguards than juveniles.

Concerns over the rights of youthful offenders led to a series of Supreme Court decisions affecting juvenile courts beginning in the late 1960s. In 1967 the Court ruled that constitutional protections were not only for adults but for juveniles as well. Parents had to be notified in a timely manner concerning charges against their child and juveniles had a right to a lawyer, the right of protection against self-incrimination, and the right to cross-examine witnesses.

These safeguards, known as due process requirements, also stated that the court had to notify juveniles of charges and hearings. In a 1970 case the Court increased the level of proof needed to find juveniles guilty. The level of proof changed from a preponderance (significant amount) of evidence to guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as in adult criminal courts.

Following the initial Supreme Court rulings on juvenile justice procedures, Congress passed the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act in 1972. The act set out general rules for state juvenile justice systems, such as keeping juveniles separate from adults in jails and prisons, and required juveniles to have a court-appointed guardian. In another case affecting juvenile justice, the Supreme Court ruled in Breed v. Jones (1975) that a person could not be tried for the same offense in both juvenile and criminal courts.

A New Justice Approach

General disappointment with the juvenile justice system in the early twenty-first century led to exploring alternative processes. One approach, called the "restorative justice approach," came into use in several countries including the United States. Called a community-based approach, in these cases the juvenile offender, the victim, their families, and several members of the community meet to repair the harm done. A person not associated with either of the parties guides the group to an agreed upon consequence or punishment for the juvenile. Positive results with this approach led to increasing interest and proposals that less serious juvenile offenders be treated through such community-based programs, leaving the more serious cases for the adult criminal justice system.

Getting tough on crime

By 1980 youth gangs coupled with gun violence caught the public's attention. In Schall v. Martin (1984) the Court
ruled that juvenile court judges could arrest and hold (detain) juveniles, but they must have a special hearing and inform parents of the date, charges, and reasons for detention. Juveniles were sent in greater numbers to adult courts to face more severe punishment, including possible execution. Some states even passed laws making parents legally responsible for their children's criminal acts.

Juvenile crime rates rose steadily from 1980 to 1994. A rash of fatal school shootings in the 1990s kept fear of juvenile crime high and many believed dangerous offenders were not punished enough in the juvenile justice system. Violent juvenile crime rates, however, declined after 1994 and by 2000 had fallen back to 1980 levels.

Despite lower crime rates, fear of juvenile violence remained high. As a result, the line between juvenile and adult criminal justice was less clear than in earlier decades—juvenile sentences were tougher, a higher number of cases were deferred to adult criminal courts, and youthful offenders were held to greater levels of accountability for their crimes.


Modern juvenile justice

In the early twenty-first century all states had juvenile courts and laws identifying the rights of juveniles and the options available to judges. Larger U.S. jurisdictions had full-time juvenile courts, while smaller ones were part time and often combined with some other form of court.

Juvenile judges were licensed attorneys in most states and often elected officials. Because of the large caseloads in some areas, experienced attorneys acted as assistant judges under supervision of the juvenile judge. The most frequent violent offense for juveniles is aggravated assault, while the most common property crime is larceny-theft.


Delinquency proceedings

Though juvenile justice procedures vary among the states, they do share certain basic features. For juveniles accused of criminal acts or status offenses, police often issue reprimands or notify parents instead of taking offenders into custody. If juveniles are taken into custody, they have a right to telephone their parents and an attorney. Juveniles in custody are usually separated from adults but some occasionally find themselves among adult defendants. Almost half of the states require a juvenile's school receive some form of notification.

Within hours of an arrest, a juvenile will be interviewed by an intake worker, a person trained to work with youthful offenders, such as a probation officer. Most jurisdictions have a detention center, which is used for intake interviews and houses juveniles awaiting hearings or serving short sentences. The worker also interviews the parents and the victim or person who filed the complaint.

After the hearing, the juvenile is usually released to a parent or guardian. The intake worker then decides whether the case should be dismissed, go to court for a hearing, or be handled informally with a warning to the offender or referring the family to a social worker. Many cases are dismissed or settled informally. If the intake worker decides the case should proceed, then the information is forwarded to a prosecutor. Parents are advised of the right to legal representation, if the prosecutor proceeds by petitioning (formally requesting) a hearing before the court to began prosecution.

Juveniles and their parents have a right to hear any pending charges and to have an attorney. The court will appoint an attorney if the juvenile's family cannot afford one. Youthful offenders cannot be made to testify against themselves and prosecutors must prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, just like in adult criminal cases.

Like adult criminal court, a prosecutor presents evidence before a judge, the offender responds to the evidence and is able to question witnesses. Unlike adult cases, however, juveniles cannot have jury trials and their records are sealed (kept private) in most states. In addition, juvenile court proceedings are held in rooms separate from adult courtrooms.

If juvenile offenders are found delinquent, they face another hearing with a probation officer who prepares a more detailed report on the youth's background. The officer may require alcohol and drug tests, check for learning disabilities, and explore mental health needs. The report is shared with the juvenile and his or her lawyer before the sentencing hearing is held. During the hearing, the victim or a victim's family can talk about how the offender's crime has affected them.


Treatment of delinquent youths

Juvenile court judges have many sentencing choices, such as probation, issuing fines, sending offenders to juvenile correctional institutions or foster homes, referrals to day treatment or social skills classes, mental health programs, or community service. A combination of treatments is often ordered by the judge. These can include probation, community service, fines, or medical treatment. Repeat offenders can be declared juvenile delinquents and removed from their homes and placed in foster care or a state facility.

The harshest treatment a judge may order is commitment to a secure reform facility. In other words, the juvenile is locked into the facility for the duration of his or her sentence. These facilities are often called youth development centers. Though rehabilitation is the goal of juvenile justice, these centers resemble prisons and serve to protect the community from the juvenile.

The length of time juveniles serve in secure facilities can vary. Since offenders are only sentenced to confinement for more serious crimes, they often remain there until they reach eighteen years of age. Most states, however, allow juvenile courts to keep jurisdiction over the offenders beyond eighteen. Some states, like New Hampshire, place juvenile offenders in adult prisons if they commit a violent crime and are at least sixteen years of age.


Most youth offenders receive a sentence of probation. Probation means a juvenile is released back into the community under the supervision of a youth services officer. The juvenile has to meet certain conditions such as completing school with a good record and not using drugs or alcohol. If the juvenile does not fulfill these conditions, the judge can order him or her to be confined in a development center.

By the early twenty-first century the privacy of juvenile records was no longer assured. About half of U.S. states do not allow records of serious or violent offenses to be sealed or destroyed. Some thirty states grant access to sealed records under certain circumstances, as spelled out in state laws. Nine states allowed the release of juvenile court records without any restrictions, while thirteen permitted or required delinquency hearings be open to the public.


Juveniles in adult criminal court

Thousands of youths are transferred to adult courts every year. In the most serious cases, juveniles can be reassigned immediately, and in some states the move is automatic for certain offenses. Assigning juveniles to adult courts has always been controversial. As a result, state laws differ as to what offenses deserve to be transferred and how it should be handled. In 1997 forty-six states allowed reassignment. These offenses increased during the "get tough" period of the 1980s and 1990s.

In most states, cases involving murder, rape, aggravated assault, and armed robbery are transferable. Other offenses include drug violations, running away from juvenile facilities, stalking, and various sex offenses. Juveniles have the right to appeal court decisions to adult courts. In federal courts a juvenile can be sent to an adult criminal court for violating federal firearms laws or selling illegal drugs.

The process requires a prosecutor to request a transfer from juvenile to adult court and to show the juvenile is the one who committed the crime. The prosecutor may also say the juvenile is not likely to be helped by treatment and is a danger to the community. According to the 1966 Supreme Court ruling in Kent v. U.S., juveniles have the right to be present at the transfer request with an attorney.

Juvenile offenders can provide evidence at transfer hearings and cross-examine witnesses to prevent moving to adult court. The decision often depends on the crime and the offender's prior offenses. If the decision is made to transfer the case, the prosecutor notifies the adult court in another hearing.

Juveniles tried in adult courts are considered first offenders and generally receive lighter sentences. The transfer of a juvenile to adult courts, however, can have serious consequences. The juvenile could be sentenced to life in prison or even execution. In 1988 the Supreme Court ruled that no juvenile younger than sixteen years of age at the time of the crime could be executed by a state.



As emphasis shifted from rehabilitation to crime control, most states passed laws in the 1980s and 1990s making it easier to send juveniles to adult courts. As a result, the number of cases transferred between 1988 and 1994 increased by 73 percent before declining in the late 1990s. Another consequence was that the number of juveniles in prison doubled between 1985 and 1998.


Cases of abuse or neglect

Besides handling cases of delinquency and status offenses, juvenile justice systems also deal with cases involving abuse, neglect, custody, adoption, paternity (identification of the biological father), and parental rights in general. Where abuse or neglect is a concern, a state agency or private citizen may petition a juvenile court to take action.

In cases of suspected physical or emotional abuse, the judge will assign a guardian or trained volunteer to serve as an advocate for the juvenile in court and in dealing with other services. This person may also prepare a report on the youth's living conditions to help the judge make a decision. The judge will usually place the juvenile in foster care or a state home, and keep certain people from having contact with the juvenile.

Removal of a juvenile from home may also occur when the court determines the parents do not have enough money to raise the child. In such cases, the parents have the right to be heard in court and the juvenile may also testify. Many times the judge will refer the juvenile or parents for counseling.


Reasons for juvenile crime

Various theories for juvenile crime have been offered through the years. Some researchers point to individual traits, such as neurological (brain) functioning, nutritional deficiencies, and psychological or emotional problems. Others point to the youth's living environment. Poor children often do not have educational, economic, and social opportunities. Drug use and other criminal activity may be occurring within the family. The juvenile may be hanging around with other delinquent youths, sometimes in gangs who offer alternative ways to gain social status.

Many still believe the major factor affecting delinquent behavior is poor parenting, with little or no control over the youth or worse, when parents simply do not care. The favored method to solving juvenile crime for some is not through harsh punishment, but in childcare and educational programs to address the issues of poverty, drug abuse, and neglect.


The future of juvenile justice

Public support for a separate juvenile system declined in the late twentieth century. Critics argued they should be abolished, claiming juvenile courts coddled youthful offenders and rehabilitation was ineffective in many individuals. Critics further claimed the courts were established only to handle status offenses such as truancy, not the violent mass murders of the late twentieth century.

Youthful offenders, critics believed, should be punished according to their crimes, just like adults. If offenders believed juvenile courts would not hold them fully responsible for their crimes, they would be more likely to commit serious crimes. Juveniles who were confined for serious crimes were released by age twenty-one or even eighteen, serving far shorter sentences than adults who committed the same offense. Critics of the juvenile justice system believed the age of an offender should be a factor, but only on an individual basis during sentencing.

Defenders of juvenile courts claimed youth crime rates have decreased and the court system should not be judged on the highly publicized violent acts of a few, such as the school shootings of the late 1990s. They claimed the court system allows judges to transfer the most violent offenders to adult courts, which did occur on an increasing basis by the early 2000s. Supporters further remarked that since children are treated differently than adults in every other part of society, it should be the same in the criminal justice system as well.

Juvenile justice defenders believed exposing youthful offenders to the violent world of adult prisons increased the potential of future criminal behavior. Rather than pay for a juvenile to be imprisoned, the funding would be better spent on rehabilitation programs, including education and job training. Instead of branding youthful offenders as adult convicted criminals, give them the chance to learn from their mistakes. Statistics showed youths who went through juvenile courts had lower rates of returning to criminal behavior than those who went through adult courts. Most importantly, supporters of juvenile justice believed society had to address the basic social and economic causes of juvenile crime while still holding violent offenders accountable for their actions.


For More Information

Books

Clement, Mary. The Juvenile Justice System. 3rd ed. Woburn, MA: Butterworth Heinemann, 2002.

Mones, Paul. When a Child Kills. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.

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

Whitehead, J. T., and S. P. Lab. Juvenile Justice: An Introduction. 3rd ed. Cincinnati, OH: Anderson, 1999.


Web Sites

National Center for Juvenile Justice.http://www.ncjj.org (accessed on August 20, 2004).

National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice.http://www.ncmhjj.com (accessed on August 20, 2004).

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