NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Preparing for the Coming Crime Wave

April 4, 1997

Criminologists warn that the U. S. faces a "bloodbath" of teenage violence in the years ahead because the teen population will expand by 17 percent over the next 10 years. And teen criminals are more dangerous than their adult counterparts because they kill on impulse -- without any intelligible motive.

One recent study predicts that one in every 20 children born today will spend some time in jail.

Experts suggest some ways the nation can prepare itself in advance to stem the potential bloodshed. Their first priority is to reform the antiquated juvenile justice system.

  • In Pima County, Arizona, for example, youths are arrested for half of all burglaries and 20 percent of all rapes -- yet fewer than 200 of the more than 11,000 charges filed against juveniles there led to confinement, and that usually for a month or less.
  • Virginia and other states are considering transferring more violent offenders 14 and older straight to adult court, and sending non-violent offenders to boot camp.
  • Citizens and lawmakers need to hold judges more accountable, since too many are hasty to strike down tough juvenile laws in the name of "civil liberties" -- even while innocent citizens who are victims of violence suffer and die.
  • Parents and other role models should be encouraged to become more involved in children's upbringing -- especially imparting a moral code to "at risk" youths.

A new report from one Manhattan Institute group, entitled "Preventing Crime, Saving Children: Monitoring, Mentoring & Ministering," focuses on "resilient youth" -- the one-half of severely at-risk children who do not opt for a life of crime. It says that the "key to producing more resilient youth is to get more caring, non-parental adults into the lives of the at-risk children who so desperately, and so obviously, need them."

An earlier report from the same group found that having a Big Brother or Big Sister cut first-time drug use by 46 percent and reduced alcohol use as well, lowered school absenteeism by 52 percent, and reduced violent behavior by 32 percent.

Source: Editorial, "When the Crime Lull Ends...," Investor's Business Daily, April 4, 1997.


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