Although the violent juvenile crime rate has been decreasing dramatically since 1994, high-profile incidents such as school shootings serve to keep the problem of juvenile violence at the forefront of national attention. It is part of the mission of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to be continually engaged in efforts to understand juvenile violence and to identify policies and programs that will help to prevent or reduce it. Since its inception in 1974, OJJDP has funded numerous research and evaluation studies that have provided important and useful information to guide States and local communities in addressing the problems associated with juvenile violence.
In 1992, as the juvenile violent crime rate was on the rise, Congress directed the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to fund additional research examining violence committed by or against juveniles in urban and rural areas. Among the objectives of the research were to examine characteristics of juveniles involved in violence, to determine the context in which juvenile violence tends to occur, and to make recommendations for the prevention and control of violence by or against juveniles.
This Report to Congress on Juvenile Violence Research presents the collective results of the studies funded under the congressional directive. In many ways, the studies confirm what we already knew -- that young African-American males are disproportionately involved as offenders and as victims of violence, that firearms play a large role in juvenile violence, and that gang members are frequently involved in violence. The studies also remind us of something very important -- although many violent juvenile offenders live in impoverished and high-crime areas, the majority of youth who live in such environments are not involved in serious delinquency.
The recommendations of these studies emphasize four major areas of intervention -- gangs, guns, high-risk juveniles, and locations and times of highest risk for juvenile violence -- and provide examples of programs that address each. My hope is that this Report will serve as a useful resource for communities as they strive to further reduce the incidence of juvenile violence.