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Understanding the "Whys" Behind Juvenile Crime Trends

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2012
170 pages
This publication is the product of a multiyear project funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) that identified and assessed the various explanations for the decrease in juvenile crime during the 1990s, so as to determine how useful these explanations could be in developing leading indicators of future trends in juvenile crime.
An introductory chapter discusses the rationale for the project and presents overviews of subsequent chapters. This is followed by a chapter that provides the groundwork for the remaining chapters. This is done by using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) to describe national trends in serious juvenile crime for the years 1980 through 2004. The rate for serious juvenile crime hovered at about 300 arrests per 100,000 juveniles from 1980 through 1987, when it began steadily increasing to a peak of about 530 in 1993, when the trend reversed, returning to approximately 300 arrests per 100,000 by 2000, where it remained for the next several years. The next chapter accounts for trends in measurable conditions and processes in communities that contributed to these national trends. The five categories examined are the proportion of the population in demographic categories most at risk for offending; the extent and concentration of poverty in a community; the prevalence of dysfunctional family structures; social organization and informal social control; and employment opportunities. This is followed by a chapter that focuses on the cultural processes that influence families and, in turn, children's involvement in delinquency. It discusses both risk and protective cultural factors in various domains. The concluding chapter includes evaluations of the impact of various public policies and practices on juvenile crime trends. Extensive tables and figures, chapter references, and appended supplementary material

Date Published: November 1, 2012