NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Youth And Crime

June 1, 1994

Where most Americans live, all crimes except auto thefts have decreased since 1980. For urban minority Americans, however, all crimes including homicide are up. Crime today is concentrated in urban America, and urban crime is concentrated in inner-city neighborhoods.

More and more crime involves chronic violent offenders under 18 years of age.

  • Only about 5 percent of all juvenile arrests are for violent crimes, but these arrests increased 50 percent from 1987 to 1991, twice the increase for persons 18 years of age or older.
  • There were nearly 123,000 violent-crime arrests of juveniles in 1991 (the latest year for which complete statistics are available), breaking all records.
  • Juvenile arrests included 3,400 for murder, 6,300 for rape, 44,500 for robbery and 69,700 for aggravated assault.

The increase in violent juvenile crime has been concentrated largely among young black males, and the victims are mostly other young black males.

  • Between 1976 and 1991, the homicide victimization rate among white youth remained flat at about two to three murders per 100,000.
  • By contrast, between 1976 and 1986, the homicide victimization rate among black youth fluctuated between seven and 10 murders per 100,000, then increased steadily to about 14 in 1988 and 20 in 1991.
  • Homicide is now far and away the leading cause of death among African-American teenagers.

Juvenile arrest rates for heroin and cocaine rose more than 700 percent between 1980 and 1990, but for African-American teen-agers, the rate increased by more than 2,000 percent. Liquor also plays a large role in inner-city crime and other problems. A pattern of persistent alcohol abuse is about as likely to be associated with chronic predatory criminality as a pattern of persistent drug abuse.

Source: John J. DiIulio, Jr., "America's Ticking Crime Bomb and How to Defuse It," Wisconsin Interest, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring/Summer 1994, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, Inc., 3107 N. Shepard Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53211, (414) 963-0600.


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