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OJJDP News @ a Glance June 2024

Youth Risk for Violent Victimization and Homicide Has Grown, Crime Trends Show

Stock photo of teenage girl appearing scared

Young people ages 12 to 17 were more likely to suffer nonfatal violent victimization in 2022 than in 2021 or 2020, according to statistics presented in Crimes Involving Juveniles, 1993–2022, a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). “Nonfatal violent victimization” refers to rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault. The 2022 rate (27.4 victimizations per 1,000 youth ages 12 to 17) was more than twice the 2021 rate (13.2 victimizations per 1,000 youth). The increase from 2021 to 2022 “largely reflects a return to prepandemic levels,” said BJS Acting Director Kevin M. Scott. 

“The rates of many crimes fell during the COVID-19 pandemic, when schools and workplaces nationwide moved online and people were quarantined in their homes,” OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan observes. “It’s concerning to see some rates rise again, especially crimes committed against children and youth.”

Crimes Involving Juveniles draws on data from BJS’s National Crime Victimization Survey and the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System and Supplementary Homicide Reports. In addition to statistics on nonfatal violent victimization, the report presents information on child and youth deaths by homicide and youth arrests. Other findings include:

  • The number of young people ages 12 to 17 who were killed by homicide has fluctuated over the past decade but rose steadily between 2018 and 2022, nearly doubling in 5 years—from 717 in 2018 to 1,409 in 2022. The homicide rate among youth ages 12 to 17 in 2022 was 5.4 deaths per 100,000 youth.
  • Adults 18 and older accounted for the majority of homicide arrests. Youth younger than 18 represented approximately 8.9 percent of homicide arrests in 2021 and 11 percent in 2022.
  • Adults were responsible for the majority of nonfatal violent incidents. Youth ages 12 to 17 committed an estimated 9.3 percent of nonfatal violent incidents in 2022, according to victim accounts; this was not statistically different from the percentage in 2021. 
  • Youth 17 or younger accounted for 9.9 percent of arrests for violent crimes (including homicide) in 2022, up from 8.7 percent in 2021. 

While the statistics show an increase in certain types of youth crime, they also confirm that adults—not youth—are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. OJJDP and its grantees are working to decrease and mitigate violence by youth, providing prevention and intervention programs and services that support healthy youth development while promoting community safety.

“OJJDP is working with our partners to understand the dynamics behind these trends,” Administrator Ryan says. “We will continue to address youth crime by investing in evidence-based and informed responses that have been shown to advance public safety and improve outcomes for youth. Our goal is to prevent most young people from entering the juvenile justice system in the first place, and to help justice-involved youth find positive paths for the future.”

In 2024, OJJDP introduced its Continuum of Care for Communities framework, which emphasizes evidence-based and promising programs and practices so young people can access needed resources and services where they live and at every point in the juvenile justice system. It takes a holistic approach, spanning prevention, intervention, treatment, and reentry strategies.

OJJDP awarded $17.1 million to 26 grantees under the fiscal year (FY) 2023 Building Local Continuums of Care To Support Youth Success initiative, and is currently accepting applications for the FY 2024 solicitation. FY 2023 grantees include Pennsylvania’s Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which is focused on designing, implementing, and sustaining local, coordinated continuums of care and opportunity for youth who are system-involved or at risk for system involvement. Ultimately, Pennsylvania aims to create a comprehensive statewide plan with funding, policy, and program recommendations to guide the state’s youth-focused services.

For most young people, OJJDP’s continuum of care emphasizes prevention and early intervention services, supporting those at risk for both delinquency and victimization. The Office funds children’s advocacy centers, for example, which coordinate the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases while providing services to help children heal. Centers employ multidisciplinary teams of professionals from the medical, mental health, victim advocacy, child protection, legal, and law enforcement fields, serving abused children and their families from a single location.

Another OJJDP program, Enhancing School Capacity To Address Youth Violence, supports collaborations between schools and community-based organizations, addressing violence by youth with prevention and intervention programs in school-based settings. OJJDP also launched and coordinates the Preventing Youth Hate Crimes and Identity-Based Bullying Initiative, and the Office funds mentoring programs in a wide range of settings, from schools and workplaces to youth detention facilities.

For young people at high risk of moving deeper into the juvenile justice system, the continuum of care emphasizes intensive, targeted programming. OJJDP’s Second Chance Act programs offer justice-involved young people educational, vocational, and job placement services both before and after their release from confinement, for example, helping to reduce recidivism and promote public safety.

“OJJDP will continue to support the design and implementation of evidence-based and promising programs to support the needs of youth,” Administrator Ryan says. “It’s imperative that we understand youth crime data thoroughly and objectively, and that we use this information to inform the services we fund along the continuum of care framework.”

Easy Access to the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports provides access to more than 30 years of national and state data on homicide victims and persons known to have committed homicide offenses, including information on the age, sex, and race of victims and persons who committed offenses, the relationship between the victim and person who committed the offense, and the type of weapon used.

Date Created: June 25, 2024