clear Introduction

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is pleased to submit this report on OJJDP's Juvenile Violence Research Studies to the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate. This report responds to Section 248(b)(6) of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act of 1974, as amended by the JJDP Amendments of 1992 (Public Law 102-586, November 8, 1992).

Section 248(b)(6)

Section 248(b)(6) provides that:

(6)(A) Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Administrator shall begin to conduct a study and continue any pending study of the incidence of violence committed by or against juveniles in urban and rural areas in the United States.

(B) The urban areas shall include --

  1. the District of Columbia;
  2. Los Angeles, California;
  3. Milwaukee, Wisconsin;
  4. Denver, Colorado;
  5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;
  6. Rochester, New York;
  7. Columbia, South Carolina; and
  8. such other cities as the Administrator determines to be appropriate.

(C) At least one rural area shall be included.

(D) With respect to each urban and rural area included in the study, the objectives of the study shall be --

  1. to identify characteristics and patterns of behavior of juveniles who are at risk of becoming violent or victims of homicide;
  2. to identify factors particularly indigenous to such areas that contribute to violence committed by or against juveniles;
  3. to determine the accessibility of firearms, and the use of firearms by or against juveniles;
  4. to determine the conditions that cause any increase in violence committed by or against juveniles;
  5. to identify existing and new diversion, prevention, and control programs to ameliorate such conditions;
  6. to improve current systems to prevent and control violence by or against juveniles; and
  7. to develop a plan to assist State and local governments to establish viable ways to reduce homicide committed by or against juveniles.

(E) Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Administration shall submit a report to the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate detailing the results of the study, addressing each objective specified in subparagraph (D).

In response to this congressional direction, OJJDP funded four new violence studies and continued funding for three existing research projects examining the causes and correlates of serious and violent juvenile offending. Because of the breadth of the legislation, the researchers saw the need to select specific objectives upon which they would focus. The complexity of the research also required a longer timeframe to complete the research than the 3 years provided for the completion of the report. Extending the timeframe allowed OJJDP and the researchers to use the combined results of these studies to provide a wealth of information on each of the objectives.

It is important to recognize that the 1992 Amendments were enacted at a time when juvenile violence was increasing. As reported in two OJJDP publications, Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1997 Update on Violence (Sickmund, Snyder, and Poe-Yamagata, 1997) and Juvenile Arrests 1997 (Snyder, 1998), the juvenile violent crime rate increased consistently from 1985 to 1994 and then decreased 12% from 1994 to 1996. Similarly, arrests of juveniles for homicide increased substantially between 1988 and 1993 but declined 39% between 1993 and 1997. Several of the funded studies examined violent juvenile offending at some point between 1992 and 1995. During the course of time required to complete these analyses, violent crime arrest rates have declined. Thus, the individual study findings regarding the level and prevalence of violence are not reflective of current downward trends in juvenile violent crime arrests. However, they provide descriptions of community initiatives and other relevant information that communities can draw on to further reduce the rate of juvenile offending. This report focuses on the issues of juvenile violence emphasized in the congressional directive, which addressed violence related to the substantial increase in juvenile violent crime in the early 1990's. Therefore, child abuse was not a focus of this report.

The Juvenile Violence Research Studies

The four new studies funded by OJJDP are described below.

Studies of Violence Committed By or Against Juveniles, Institute for Law and Justice, Washington, DC

The Institute for Law and Justice (ILJ), in partnership with LINC in Alexandria, VA, and The Urban Institute in Washington, DC, conducted a study of juvenile violence in the District of Columbia. There were two major components of the ILJ study, each focusing on specific objectives laid out in Section 248(b)(6)(D). First, ILJ directed the survey of 213 African-American males, ages 13 to 17, randomly selected from 3 of the highest crime areas in the District. These interviews provided a wealth of information about the attitudes, victimization patterns, and offending behavior of these adolescents. Second, The Urban Institute examined court records of juvenile cases and juvenile victimization records from the Metropolitan Police Department for the 3-year period from 1993 to 1995 to identify trends in juvenile offending and victimization, with a particular focus on violent offenses committed by or against juveniles. Additional information was obtained from two 1997 ILJ-sponsored focus groups that brought together community residents, community agency representatives, and community leaders for the purpose of discussing ways to reduce violent crimes committed by and against young people in the District of Columbia.

Juvenile Violence in Los Angeles: Collecting Juvenile Violence Data for Juvenile Violence Reduction, Social Sciences Research Institute, University of Southern California

Researchers at the Social Sciences Research Institute at the University of Southern California examined juvenile violence in the Los Angeles area, with special emphasis on gang violence. Using police department records, they looked at homicide incidents involving 12- to 17-year-old victims and/or offenders occurring in 1993 and 1994 to identify the participants and the circumstances of conflicts surrounding the incidents. In addition, they conducted interviews with youth from neighborhoods with high rates of juvenile violence to identify the characteristics and patterns of adolescent violence.

Violence Among Rural Youth, Institute for Families in Society, University of South Carolina

The Institute for Families in Society at the University of South Carolina conducted research on juvenile violence in rural areas. The research focused on five main issues: homicides committed by juveniles, patterns of gun ownership among nonmetropolitan middle school students, community factors affecting violence among rural youth, bullying and antisocial behavior among middle school students, and bullying prevention. The five studies were conducted between 1994 and 1997. The goal of this group of studies was to expand knowledge about the prevalence and nature of violence among youth in rural and nonmetropolitan communities, community-level predictors of youth violence, and the effectiveness of violence prevention strategies in rural communities.

The Milwaukee Homicide Study, University Board of Regents, University of Wisconsin System

The Milwaukee Homicide Study examined homicides involving juveniles and young adults that occurred in Milwaukee in 1992 and 1993, a period during which homicides were peaking in that city. The objectives of the study were to identify characteristics and patterns of behavior of youth involved in violence, identify factors associated with increased youth violence, and examine the role of firearms in youth violence. The study used life history information obtained from incarcerated offenders and next of kin of victims, plus official record data, to analyze differences across types of homicides and differences between victims and offenders. An analysis of the spatial distribution of Milwaukee homicides that occurred over the course of a longer period, from 1989 to 1993, was also undertaken.

In addition to these four studies, OJJDP continued its support of research examining the causes and correlates of delinquent behavior. The Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency (hereinafter Causes and Correlates), initiated in 1986, includes three coordinated longitudinal projects designed to improve the understanding of serious delinquency, violence, and drug use through the examination of how individual youth develop within the context of family, school, peers, and community. The three Causes and Correlates projects employ similar methodologies and collect both self-report and official record data. Samples were carefully drawn to capture inner-city youth considered to be at high risk for involvement in delinquency and drug abuse. The studies include the following individual projects:

Bullet A Longitudinal Multidisciplinary Study of Developmental Patterns, the University of Colorado (Denver Youth Survey).
Bullet Progressions in Antisocial and Delinquent Child Behavior, the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Youth Study).
Bullet A Panel Study of a Reciprocal Causal Model of Delinquency, The Research Foundation of SUNY, University at Albany, SUNY (Rochester Youth Development Study).

The table on page 4 provides a list of the individual components of the studies that are included in this report and a very brief description of the sample(s) used in each component. More detailed information on the methodology of each study can be found in the appendix.

The remainder of this report is divided into sections based on the objectives set forth in Section 248(b)(6). Each section includes a brief discussion of the background literature provided by the individual reports and presents the findings of the various studies that are related to that objective.

Juvenile Violence Research Studies

Studies of Violence Committed By or Against Juveniles -- Institute for Law and Justice (ILJ)
DC Juvenile Violence Juveniles ages 12 to 17 charged with violent offenses in 1993-95 in DC (n=2,686); juvenile homicide victimizations in 1993-95 (n=128), and nonfatal juvenile violent victimizations in 1993-94 in DC (n=2,971)
DC Survey Survey of 213 African-American males ages 13 to 17 randomly selected from 3 of the highest crime areas in DC in 1996
Juvenile Violence in Los Angeles -- University of Southern California
Los Angeles Homicide Random sample of 311 homicide incidents involving 12- to 17-year-olds occurring in 1993-94 from 3 jurisdictions in Los Angeles County
Los Angeles Survey Survey of 349 males ages 12 to 17 randomly sampled from 8 high-crime Los Angeles County neighborhoods
Violence Among Rural Youth -- University of South Carolina
SC Homicide Three categories of male juvenile offenders ages 17 and under who committed serious offenses between 1992 and 1994 in the State of South Carolina: (1) homicide (n=86); (2) assault and battery with intent to kill (n=77); (3) other serious offenses (n=87)
SC Gun Survey of 6,263 students in 36 middle schools in nonmetropolitan counties conducted in March 1996
SC Community Arrest rates for juvenile violence in 264 nonmetropolitan counties in 4 States (FL, GA, SC, NE) from 1989 through 1993
SC Bullying Survey of all fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students from 6 nonmetropolitan school districts in SC conducted in March 1995 (n=6,389)
SC Bullying Prevention Evaluation of the bullying prevention program implemented in SC schools, conducted March 1995 through March 1997
The Milwaukee Homicide Study -- University of Wisconsin
Milwaukee Homicide Homicide incidents involving adolescent (13-17) and young adult offenders (18-24) in Milwaukee in 1992 and 1993; interviews with 86 offenders and 57 next of kin of homicide victims
The Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency
Denver Youth Survey Household sample of 1,527 Denver males and females who were 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 years old in 1988; ongoing longitudinal survey
Pittsburgh Youth Study Random sample of 1,517 males who were in first, fourth, and seventh grades in 1987 in Pittsburgh public schools; ongoing longitudinal survey
Rochester Youth Random sample of 1,000 males and females from Development Study seventh and eighth graders in 1987 from Rochester public schools; ongoing longitudinal survey

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Juvenile Violence Research OJJDP Report to Congress