NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Juvenile Crime Likely To Increase

December 29, 1995

A tidal wave of juvenile crime and violence is gathering force. Criminologists have variously called it an epidemic, a ticking time bomb, the calm before the storm and a long descent into night. The reasons for the coming explosion in crime are both demographic and cultural.

  • Over the next ten years, the population of 14 to 17 year olds will grow 23 percent, and the current generation of juveniles has already brought us the worst juvenile crime rates in recorded history.
  • Since 1965, the juvenile arrest rate has more than tripled, and over the last ten years the homicide rate has more than doubled among 14 to 17 year olds.
  • During the 1980s, the white juvenile crime rate grew twice as fast as the black juvenile crime rate, and from 1983 to 1992, the arrest rate for murder grew 166 percent among blacks, but also grew 94 percent among whites.

The increasing juvenile murder rate coincides with an increase in "stranger murders," suggesting juvenile predators are less discriminating in their targets.

  • While in the past most murders occurred between family members and friends, the FBI recently reported that 53 percent of homicides are committed by strangers.
  • "Stranger murders" are now four times as common as killings by family members.
  • Perpetrators of stranger murders have a better than 80 percent chance of not being punished.

Experts say the coming crime wave is not so much due to poverty as to a poverty of values. While more police and prisons may help, the cure, they believe, in a renaissance of personal responsibility, and a reassertion of responsibility over rights and community over egoism.

Source: Andrew Peyton Thomas (Assistant Attorney General for Arizona), "Woodstock: A Family Picnic," Investor's Business Daily, December 29, 1995


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