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Are Juveniles Driving the Violent Crime Trend?

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 1994
6 pages
Using data from the FBI’s Violent Crime Index for the periods 1985-1992 and 1983-1992, this study examined the proportion of violent crimes attributed to juveniles.
The FBI monitors change in the prevalence of violent crime by tracking data on four types of crime: murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Between 1965 and 1992, the number of violent crime index offenses reported to law enforcement agencies increased by 432 percent. The increase was relatively constant over this period. In the period from 1983 to 1992, the number of reported violent crimes increased 54 percent. The percentage of increase for these periods is reported for each of the four types of violent offenses. It is possible, using data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, to estimate how much of the increase in violent crime was attributed to juveniles. If it is assumed that the offender profile for cleared violent crime (arrest made) is similar to the offender profile of all crimes reported to police, then an estimate can be developed of the proportion of crimes committed each year by juveniles (persons under age 18). An estimated 81 percent of the increase in violent crime between 1983 and 1992 was attributed to adults. Data indicate that 19 percent of the increase in violent crimes in the United States between 1983 and 1992 was caused by juveniles. Thus, although juveniles contribute substantially to violent crime, they are not driving trends in violent crimes; however, juveniles involvement in violent crime during the periods examined has increased. Data used in this analysis are provided for violent crime generally and for each of the four types of violent crime.

Date Published: April 1, 1994