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Youngest Delinquents: Offenders Under Age 15

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 1997
12 pages
This Bulletin presents findings of a study that examined the most recent data on juvenile arrests and the delinquency cases processed by US juvenile courts.
This study compared the characteristics of young offenders arrested in recent years with those arrested in 1980 and analyzed the juvenile court's response to those offenders once they had been charged. Findings suggest that today's serious and violent juvenile offenders are not significantly younger than those of 10 or 15 years ago. Yet many juvenile justice professionals, as well as the public, would assert the opposite. The study suggests several factors are at work: (1) Overall growth in the number of violent juvenile offenders has drawn increased attention to the problem of young offenders in general; (2) The nature of the delinquency cases involving juveniles age 12 or younger has changed; (3) Delinquency caseloads have doubled nationwide since 1970; (4) Justice professionals tend to accumulate memories of exceptional cases; and (5) The news media have increased their reporting of crime, especially violent crimes by the very young. Figures, tables

Date Published: September 1, 1997