NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Office of the Surgeon General (US); National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (US); National Institute of Mental Health (US); Center for Mental Health Services (US). Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD): Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2001.

Cover of Youth Violence

Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General.

Show details

Chapter 2 -- the Magnitude of Youth Violence

Headlines proclaim that the epidemic of youth violence that began in the early 1980s is over, but the reality behind this seemingly good news is far more complex and unsettling. Public health studies show that youth violence is an ongoing, startlingly pervasive problem. This chapter describes the magnitude of and trends in violent crime by young people, focusing on homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, and forcible rape (see Box 2-1 for definitions). A later chapter (Chapter 4) seeks to explain why young people become involved in violence in the first place.

Box 2-1. Definitions of the four violent crimes considered in this report.

Table

Box 2-1. Definitions of the four violent crimes considered in this report.

Measuring Youth Violence

Surveillance is the backbone of the public health approach to youth violence or any other public health problem. It reveals the magnitude of a problem, tracks the magnitude over time, and uses the information gained from such monitoring to help shape actions to prevent or combat the problem.

Two approaches to measuring the magnitude of youth violence are commonly used. The first relies on official crime statistics compiled by law enforcement agencies, typically arrest reports. These statistics cannot answer questions about how many young people commit violent crimes or how many violent crimes were committed, but they can answer questions about the number of crimes reported to the police, the volume and types of arrests, and how the volume changes over time.

The second approach surveys young people and asks them in confidence about violent acts they have committed or have been victims of during a given period of time. Such reports can be obtained from the same group of people over a long period of time (a longitudinal survey) or from different groups of people at the same point in time (a cross-sectional survey). A prominent example of a repeated cross-sectional survey cited in this chapter is Monitoring the Future, a survey of high school seniors that has been conducted annually since 1975. Reports from young people themselves offer the best way to measure violent behavior that never reaches the attention of the justice system. In fact, evidence in this chapter makes it unmistakably clear that most crimes by young people do not reach the attention of the justice system.

Self-reports are well suited to answering such questions as: What proportion of youths are violent? What types of violent acts do they commit? Has the volume of violence changed over time? Are there differences by sex and race/ethnicity? When during development does violence arise, and what forms does it take? How do children's patterns of violence evolve over time, and how long do they last? These questions relate to the magnitude of violent behavior and to its developmental pathways, and they are addressed in this chapter and the next.

Both arrest reports and self-reports are reasonably valid and reliable ways of measuring the particular aspects of violence they were designed to measure (for general reviews see Blumstein et al., 1986; Cook & Laub, 1998; Elliott & Huizinga, 1989; Hindelang et al., 1981; Huizinga & Elliott, 1986). Arrests appear to be more objective, but they are not a good general measure of violent behavior, for several reasons. First, the majority of aggravated assaults, robberies, and rapes are never reported to the police; arrests are made in fewer than half of reported crimes (Cook & Laub, 1998; Maguire and Pastore, 1999; Snyder & Sickmund, 1999); and most youths involved in violent crimes are never arrested for a violent crime (Elliott et al., 1989; Loeber et al., 1998; Huizinga et al., 1995). Thus, arrests seriously underestimate the volume of violent crime and fail to distinguish accurately between those who are and are not involved in violence. Second, arrest records do not accurately reflect the distribution of reported violent crimes; that is, the offenses for which youths are arrested are not representative of the crimes reported to police (Cook & Laub, 1998). Nonetheless, arrest records are the best measure of the justice system's response to observed or reported crime.

Self-reports were designed specifically to overcome the limitations of violence measures based on official records of criminal behavior. They provide a more direct measure of criminal behavior, but they too have their limitations. Youths may fail to report their violent behavior accurately, either deliberately or because of memory problems, and they may exaggerate their involvement, reporting rather trivial events in response to questions about serious forms of violence. Research reveals that exaggeration (overreporting) is a greater problem than underreporting for reports that cover the previous year (Elliott & Huizinga, 1989), but sophisticated self-report measures can minimize these potential sources of error (Elliott & Huizinga, 1989; Huizinga & Elliott, 1986). The advantages of self-reports are that they capture not only unreported offenses but also details not found in arrest records. In addition, this measure of violent offending is not subject to any of the biases that might be involved in arrest processes.1 The general conclusion from studies evaluating the validity and reliability of self-reports is that they compare favorably with other standard, accepted social science indicators (Hindelang et al., 1981).

Both types of measures contribute to our understanding of violence. The key to using them is to understand their relative strengths and limitations, determine where they reinforce each other and where they diverge or conflict, and then interpret the differences in findings, if possible (Brener et al., 1995; Hindelang et al., 1981; Huizinga & Elliott, 1986; Snyder & Sickmund, 1999).

The Violence Epidemic

Arrest rates of young people for homicide and other violent crimes skyrocketed from 1983 to 1993. In response to the dramatic increase in the number of murders committed by young people, Congress and many state legislatures passed new gun control laws, established boot camps, and began waiving children as young as 10 out of the juvenile justice system and into adult criminal courts. Then, starting in the mid-1990s, overall arrest rates began to decline, returning by 1999 to rates only slightly higher than those in 1983.

Several important indicators were used to track youth violence during these years, but their findings did not always agree. Arrest rates, as noted above, provide strong evidence of both a violence epidemic between 1983 and 1993/1994 and a subsequent decline to 1999. Several other indicators of violence furnish similar, but not as robust evidence of a violence epidemic that later subsided. However, the decline in arrest rates is not uniform for all types of violent crime. Moreover, another key indicator -- the volume of violent behavior, which is based on self-reports -- does not show a decline in youth violence after 1993. As explained later, that indicator remained high and essentially level from 1993 to 1998. This chapter answers the questions raised by these disparate findings -- namely, whether the epidemic of violence is really over and why leading indicators of youth violence do not agree.

A rise and subsequent decline in the use of firearms and other weapons by young people provides one potential explanation for the different trends in arrest records and self-reports. The violence epidemic was accompanied by an increase in weapons carrying and use. During this era, instant access to weapons, especially firearms, often turned an angry encounter into a seriously violent or lethal one, which, in turn, drew attention from the police in the form of an arrest. As weapons carrying declined, so too did arrest rates, perhaps because the violence was less injurious or lethal. But the amount of underlying violent behavior (on the basis of self-reports) did not change much -- if anything, it appears to have increased in recent years. That undercurrent of violent behavior could reignite into a new epidemic if weapons carrying rises again. From a public health perspective, a resurgence of weapons carrying -- and hence the potential for another epidemic of violence -- poses a grave threat.

Arrests for Violent Crimes

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) monitors arrests made by law enforcement agencies across the United States through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. Since the 1930s, this program has compiled annual arrest information submitted voluntarily by thousands of city, county, and state police agencies. This information currently comes from police jurisdictions that represent only 68 percent of the population, so FBI figures represent projections of these data to the entire U.S. population (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999).

The UCR tabulates the number, rate, and certain features of arrests made by law enforcement agencies. Because some people are arrested more than once a year, the UCR cannot provide an accurate count of the number of people arrested or the proportion of the total population arrested (the prevalence). Nor can the UCR provide an accurate count of the number of crimes committed. A single arrest may account for a series of crimes, or a single crime may involve the arrest of more than one person. Young people tend to commit crimes in groups, so the number of youths arrested inflates the number of crimes committed (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). As noted earlier, arrest rates are also prone to certain types of error. Unless indicated otherwise, the figures on arrests were assembled by the FBI.

Arrest Rates and Trends

As shown in Figure 2-1, overall arrest rates for violent crimes by youths between the ages of 10 and 17 rose sharply from 1983 to 1993/1994. Rates then declined until 1999, the most recent year for which figures are available.

Figure 2-1. Arrest rates of youths age 10-17 for serious violent crime, 1980-1999.

Figure

Figure 2-1. Arrest rates of youths age 10-17 for serious violent crime, 1980-1999. Sources: Snyder, (unpublished).

Figure 2-2 shows arrest rates for each of the four violent crimes considered in this report. In 1999, arrests of young people for all crimes totaled 2.4 million (Snyder, (unpublished)), with 104,000 arrests for violent crimes. Arrests for aggravated assault (69,600) and robbery (28,000) were the most frequent, with arrests for forcible rape (5,000) and murder (1,400) trailing significantly behind. In 1998, youths accounted for one out of six arrests for all violent crimes, a share that has decreased slightly (16 percent) in recent years (Snyder, (unpublished)). Although the 1999 arrest rate for violent crimes was the lowest in this decade, it is still 15 percent higher than the 1983 rate (Snyder, (unpublished)). As seen in Figure 2-2, the 1999 rates for homicide, robbery, and rape are below the 1983 rates; however, arrests for aggravated assault are still nearly 70 percent higher than 1983 rates.

Figure 2-2. Arrest rates of youths age 10-17 for serious violent crime, by type of crime, 1980-1999.

Figure

Figure 2-2. Arrest rates of youths age 10-17 for serious violent crime, by type of crime, 1980-1999. Sources: Snyder, (unpublished).

The sheer magnitude of the increase in arrest rates between 1983 and 1993/1994 is striking. Overall, arrest rates of youths for violent offenses grew by about 70 percent. The increase in homicides committed by young people was particularly alarming. Both the rate of homicide arrests and the actual number of young people who were arrested for a homicide nearly tripled (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). This increase was consistent for adolescents at each age between 14 and 17 (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999).

The Role of Firearms

The decade-long upsurge in homicides was tied to an increased use of firearms in the commission of crimes (Cherry et al., 1998; Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). Likewise, the downward trend in homicide arrests from 1993 to 1999 can be traced largely to a decline in firearm usage. The critical role of firearms in homicide and other violent crimes is supported by arrest, victimization, hospitalization, and self-report data.

Analysis of arrest data (Figure 2-3) shows an unequivocal upsurge in firearm usage by young people who committed homicide. In 1983, youths were equally likely to use firearms and other weapons, such as a knife or club, to kill someone. By 1994, 82 percent of homicides by young people were committed with firearms (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). Virtually all of the increase in firearm-related homicides involved African American youths (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). The precipitous drop in homicides between 1994 and 1998 coincided with a decline in firearm usage, again mostly by African American youths (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999).

Figure 2-3. Firearm- and nonfirearm-related homicides by youths, 1980-1997.

Figure

Figure 2-3. Firearm- and nonfirearm-related homicides by youths, 1980-1997. Source: Snyder & Sickmund, 1999.

Analysis of Supplementary Homicide Report data on young victims of homicide2 reinforces this pattern of firearm use. A large increase in the number of young people killed by firearms between 1987 and 1993 was followed by a decrease. More than 2,000 youths were homicide victims in 1993, the peak year (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). Most victims were male, and a disproportionately high percentage were African American males (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999).

The use of firearms in violent crimes other than homicide cannot readily be tracked in youth arrest statistics, but for Americans of all ages, firearm use in violent crimes increased from 1985 to 1992 and then declined from 1993 to 1998. Firearm use during robberies increased 33 percent between 1985 and 1992; the decline in firearm use from 1993 to 1998 was nearly 20 percent for aggravated assaults but only 6 percent for robbery (Cook & Laub, 1998; Maguire & Pastore, 1995, 1999).

Firearm use can also be tracked indirectly, through victims treated in hospital emergency departments. Since 1992, injuries related to firearms have been monitored through an emergency department surveillance system.3 Although there are no data from this source to corroborate the growing pattern of firearm injuries before 1992, there are data to corroborate the decline since then. Figure 2-4 presents a special analysis of emergency department surveillance data on youths age 10 to 19. It shows that the rate of firearms-related injuries among young people treated in hospital emergency departments dropped by almost 50 percent from 1993 to 1998. Data on male youths alone reveal a similarly dramatic drop.

Figure 2-4. Nonfatal firearm-related injuries of youths age 10-19 treated in hospital emergency departments, 1993-1998.

Figure

Figure 2-4. Nonfatal firearm-related injuries of youths age 10-19 treated in hospital emergency departments, 1993-1998. Source: CDC, 2000b. Rates and 95% confidence intervals are presented in Appendix 2-A.

In the early 1990s, high school students began to report that they were increasingly less likely to carry guns anywhere and specifically less likely to carry them to school. Figure 2-5 illustrates these trends, as well as trends in general weapons carrying, based on data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).4 Each trend shows a significant linear decrease, although the decline in weapons carrying in general leveled off in 1999 (Brener et al., 1999; CDC, 2000a; Kann et al., 2000).

Figure 2-5. High school students who carried weapons, * 1991-1999.

Figure

Figure 2-5. High school students who carried weapons, * 1991-1999. Source: Adapted from Brener et al., 1999. * On 1 or more of the 30 days preceding the survey. 95% confidence intervals for carried weapon = ± 1.3-2.3; for carried weapon at (more...)

Thus, there has been an upsurge and then a decline in the use of firearms and weapons over the past two decades. The easy availability of guns and the resulting rise in lethal violence was caused at least in part by the emerging crack cocaine markets in the mid-1980s and the recruitment of youths into these markets, where carrying guns became routine (Blumstein & Wallman, 2000). It also resulted from changes in the types of guns manufactured, with cheaper, larger caliber guns flooding the gun markets (Wintemute, 2000).

The reasons for the decline are complex and not well understood, but they do involve changes in the carrying and use of guns in violent encounters (Blumstein & Wallman, 2000). The explanations most often given are a decline in youth involvement in the crack market and in gang involvement in crack distribution, police crackdowns on gun carrying and illegal gun purchases, longer sentences for violent crimes involving a gun, a strong economy, and expanded crime and violence prevention programs. After reviewing these and other potential explanations for the drop in violence, Blumstein and Wallman (2000) concluded that no single factor was responsible; rather, the decrease in violence resulted from the combination of many factors.

Comparing Arrests to Other Trends

As noted above, the steep rise and fall in arrest rates over the past two decades has been matched to some extent by changes in leading indicators of violence. Figure 2-6 tracks the trends in four indicators: arrest rates for homicide only, arrest rates for all serious violent crimes, incident rates from victims' self-reports, and incident rates from offenders' self-reports.

Figure 2-6. Trends in youth violence since 1983.

Figure

Figure 2-6. Trends in youth violence since 1983. Sources: Arrest rate for serious violent crimes: Snyder, unpublished. Arrest rate for homicide and non-negligent manslaughter: Snyder, unpublished. Self-reported incident rate of serious assault and robbery: (more...)

The incident rate is a measure of the volume of violence. It refers to the number of self-reported violent acts within a given-sized population -- in this case, the number of violent acts per 1,000 young people. In contrast, the prevalence rate indicates what proportion of that population is involved in one or more violent behaviors. Figure 2-6 compares arrest rates with self-reported incident rates (rather than with prevalence rates) because both measure the volume of violent events. Even though arrest and incident rates measure different events and have different absolute magnitudes, the degree of change in these rates over time can be compared.

Arrests Versus Self-Reported Incidents

The sharpest increases in Figure 2-6 are for the two arrest indicators. Homicide arrest rates were roughly 170 percent higher in 1993 than in 1983, and arrest rates for all serious violent crimes were 70 percent higher. The incident rates of serious violent crimes reported by victims and the rates of serious assault and robbery reported by offenders increased to a lesser extent, by about 50 percent.

By 1999, arrest rates for homicide, robbery, and rape had dropped below their 1983 levels; by 1997, victim-reported incident rates had dropped back to roughly their 1983 levels. Arrests for aggravated assaults remained high, however -- at almost 70 percent above their 1983 level. Since the peak year of arrests for aggravated assault (1994), arrests for this violent crime have declined only 24 percent.

Self-reported violent offending showed no decline at all. After rising by about 50 percent, the incident rate of self-reported serious assaults and robbery remained essentially level through 1998. The leveling off of these rates after 1993 is troubling, for it indicates that the rise and fall in arrest rates are set against a backdrop of ongoing violent behavior. This picture of ongoing violence is borne out by prevalence rates and trends from the Monitoring the Future survey (MTF). Trends in the incident rate of serious violence are shown again in Figure 2-7, this time graphed according to magnitude rather than percentage of change.5

Figure 2-7. Trends in incident rates of serious violence among 12th graders, assault with injury and robbery with a weapon combined, 1980-1998.

Figure

Figure 2-7. Trends in incident rates of serious violence among 12th graders, assault with injury and robbery with a weapon combined, 1980-1998. Source: Maguire and Pastore, 1999. Rates calculated from Monitoring the Future data by Elliott, senior scientific (more...)

Prevalence of Violent Behavior

Prevalence refers to the proportion of American youths involved in one or more violent behaviors. UCR arrest rates, as discussed earlier, cannot be used to calculate prevalence. The only national youth survey from which long-term trends in self-reported violent behavior can be gleaned is the MTF,6 which was begun in 1975 and is conducted annually by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. The longest-running survey of youths, MTF asks a nationally representative sample of high school seniors about a wide range of social attitudes and behaviors.7 Although the survey is administered at school, it asks about violent behavior and victimization across all community settings.

It is worth reiterating that self-reports, whether by offenders or victims, are an essential research tool for determining the extent of youth violence. They furnish a window into violent behavior that never reaches the police. For example, the National Crime Victimization Survey reveals that the majority (58 percent) of serious violent crimes committed by youths are not reported to the police (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). A large fraction of the crimes that are reported never result in an arrest. Estimates indicate that only 6 to 14 percent of chronic violent offenders are ever arrested for a serious violent crime (Dunford & Elliott, 1984; Elliott, 2000a; Huizinga et al., 1996; Loeber et al., 1998).

The MTF gathers data about five acts of violence and from them compiles a violence index (see Figure 2-8 for the specific offenses included). This violence index is not the same as the UCR violent crime index, which aggregates the four types of arrests covered in this chapter. According to the MTF's violence index, about 3 out of 10 high school seniors reported having committed a violent act in the past year, an annual prevalence rate of about 30 percent. The MTF's violence index has been relatively stable for almost 20 years, in sharp contrast to the dramatic increase in arrests.

Figure 2-8. Trends in prevalence of serious violence among 12th graders, 1980-1998.

Figure

Figure 2-8. Trends in prevalence of serious violence among 12th graders, 1980-1998. Sources: Rates for violence index: Johnston, 2000; rates for assault with injury and robbery with weapon: Maguire and Pastore, 1999. Entires above are 3-year running (more...)

Although the prevalence rate of self-reported violent behavior is relatively constant, it is still strikingly high, partly because high school seniors age 17 and 18 are at the peak ages of violent offending and partly because the violence index includes some less serious violent behaviors as well as some very serious ones.

Because this report focuses on violent behavior carrying the potential for serious injury or death, Figure 2-8 also includes the prevalence rates of assault with injury and robbery with a weapon, the two most serious acts in the MTF violence index. An assault with injury could lead to an arrest for aggravated assault; likewise, a robbery with a weapon could lead to an arrest for armed robbery. Therefore, assault with injury and robbery with a weapon may be used as proxy measures for aggravated assault and armed robbery, respectively.

Over the past two decades, the MTF's prevalence rates for assault with injury ranged from 10 to 15 percent (± 1.3 to 1.8). A small but significant increase took place between 1979 and 1998. About half of this increase occurred between 1983 and 1993, but rates remained fairly constant after 1993 (the increase from 1993 to 1998 shown in Figure 2-8 is not statistically significant). The prevalence of robbery with a weapon ranged from 2 to 5 percent (± 0.7 to 1.1) between 1983 and 1993 and remained constant thereafter. Thus, unlike arrest data, MTF data show no evidence of a downward trend in self-reported assaults or robberies after 1993.

Prevalence rates of this magnitude -- 10 to 15 percent of high school seniors8 -- for the most serious types of violence are confirmed by other self-report surveys described in Chapter 3. For example, an average prevalence rate of 9 percent (± 2.0) was reported for 17-year-olds between 1976 and 1982 in the National Youth Survey, whose measure of violence includes aggravated assault, robbery, gang fights, and rape. This rate is similar to the MTF's, but the National Youth Survey measure includes more serious violent offenses. Two general city surveys -- the Denver Youth Survey and the Rochester Youth Development Survey, which use the same measure of violence as the National Youth Survey -- report somewhat higher prevalence rates among 17-year-olds: 12 percent (± 1.6) and 14 percent (± 2.0), respectively.9

International Prevalence

Are U.S. youths unique in reporting a high prevalence of violent behavior? How do they compare to their European counterparts? The answers can be found by comparing the MTF findings with the International Self-Report Delinquency Study (Junger-Tas et al., 1994), a study of delinquent behavior conducted in several European countries.

Like the MTF, this study relies on self-reported behavior. Of the countries included, only England/Wales, the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy used a probability sample that provided national estimates of violence comparable to the violence index used in the MTF survey. Self-reported serious violence among young people age 16 to 17 in these countries in 1992 or 1993 ranged from 16 to 26 percent (Table 2-1). These prevalence rates are lower than the U.S. rate of about 30 percent for the MTF's violence index. Thus, while the questions in the international study may be somewhat different, the findings show that while a higher proportion of U.S. youths commit violent acts, youth violence is not unique to the United States.

Table 2-1. International comparison of the annual and cumulative prevalence of self-reported violent behaviora by youths, 1992-1993b.

Table

Table 2-1. International comparison of the annual and cumulative prevalence of self-reported violent behaviora by youths, 1992-1993b.

A major difference between the United States and several other industrial countries is the ease of access to firearms. From 1990 to 1995, the United States had the highest rate of firearm-related deaths among youths in the industrialized world (CDC, 1997). The rate for children below age 15 was five times higher than that of 25 other countries combined.

In summary, youth violence, although international in scope, is greater in the United States, more likely to involve firearms, and more lethal in its consequences. According to self-reports, both the prevalence and incidence (volume) of assault and robbery increased among U.S. high school seniors between 1983 and 1993. This finding is consistent with an epidemic of violence among U.S. youths, although self-reports point to a more modest upsurge than arrest trends do. However, both self-reports and arrest rates for aggravated assault point to an ongoing problem of youth violence after the apparent end of the violence epidemic. Thus, the rise and fall in arrest rates for most violent offenses is set against more enduring rates of violent behavior.

Differences by Sex and Race/ethnicity

Self-reported violence and arrest rates for violent offenses can also be compared by sex and by race/ethnicity. Ratios based on these two sources of data show similar findings with respect to sex but remarkably different findings with respect to race/ethnicity -- differences that have yet to be fully explained.

Differences in Self-Reports

Self-reported rates of serious violent behavior differ widely by sex but considerably less by race. Table 2-2 compares the violent incident rate (the number of robberies and assaults per 1,000 high school seniors) and the violence index prevalence rate (the prevalence of the five serious acts of violence described in Figure 2-8) by sex and by race. The table focuses on two critical periods, 1983 to 1993 and 1993 to 1998. In general, there was little change in those periods, with one exception.

Table 2-2. Differences in Youths' self-reported serious violent behavior, by sex and race, 1983, 1993, and 1998.

Table

Table 2-2. Differences in Youths' self-reported serious violent behavior, by sex and race, 1983, 1993, and 1998.

In 1983 and 1993, the ratios of male to female youths committing violent acts were 7.4 to 1 and 7.0 to 1, respectively. This means that for every violent act committed by female youths in these years, at least seven violent acts were committed by male youths. By 1998, this ratio had closed to 3.5 to 1, indicating that females are closing the gap. The difference in prevalence rates changed little over the same period, but at a ratio of 2 to 1, it was much smaller to begin with. Taken together, the trends show that the proportions of males and females involved in violence (the prevalence rate) have not changed but that the relative number of violent acts by males and females (the incident rate) has changed, with females committing more violent acts in 1998 than in earlier years.

Differences by race are also presented in Table 2-2. The only available national comparisons for serious violence are for white and African American youths (see Chapter 3 for local longitudinal studies that include rates for Hispanic youths). Overall, incident rates are lower for white than African American youths over these years; the gaps are largest in 1993 and 1998, when approximately 1.5 violent acts were committed by African Americans for every 1 violent act by whites. The racial gap appeared to increase somewhat during the violence epidemic and has remained higher through 1998. There are essentially no differences by race in the prevalence rates for serious self-reported violent behavior.

Differences in Arrest Rates

Arrest rates differed widely by sex and by race/ethnicity between 1983 and 1998 (Table 2-3). Overall, the difference was greater by sex than by race/ethnicity and was most evident in regard to homicide arrests: In 1998, 11 times as many males were arrested as females. A similar male-female gap was evident for robbery, but the gap for aggravated assault was considerably smaller.

Table 2-3. Differences in youth arrests for serious violent crimes, by sex and race/ethnicity, 1983, 1993, and 1998.

Table

Table 2-3. Differences in youth arrests for serious violent crimes, by sex and race/ethnicity, 1983, 1993, and 1998.

Trends in the male-female gap vary, depending on the crime for which youths are arrested. From 1983 to 1993, the male-female disparity in homicide arrests doubled: In other words, the violence epidemic was driven by arrests of males. During the same period, the male-female gap in arrests for both robbery and aggravated assault shrank. More recently, from 1993 to 1998, the male-female disparity in all three types of arrests has held constant or declined further.

Differences in arrest rates by sex are similar in magnitude to differences in self-reported violent incidents. Combining aggravated assault and robbery arrest data yields male:female ratios of 6.8 to 1, 5.7 to 1, and 4.3 to 1 for 1983, 1993, and 1998, respectively.10 The ratios for self-reported incidents were 7.4 to 1, 7.0 to 1, and 3.5 to 1 (Table 2-2). Thus, both self-report and arrest rates attest to a difference by sex in the volume of violence but also to a narrowing of that gap between 1983 and 1998 -- except for homicide arrests. Possible reasons for the male-female gap are discussed in Chapter 4.

Self-reports and arrest rates provide different pictures of violent offending by race. Self-reports, as noted above, reveal small differences between African American and white youths. Arrest records, on the other hand, reveal large differences, even though these gaps narrowed between 1993 and 1998 (Table 2-3). The narrowing of the gap was particularly noteworthy for homicide arrests: Whereas about nine African American youths were arrested for every white youth in 1993, only about five were arrested for each white youth in 1998. Even at 5 to 1, the ratio of African American to white youths arrested for homicide remains greater than that of Native American or Asian youths to white youths.

Ratios cannot be calculated for Hispanic youths because data for this ethnic group are not broken out in the UCR or other systematic data collection systems (Soriano, 1998). A few regional and city studies suggest that homicide arrest rates for Hispanic males are substantially higher than those for non-Hispanic white males and that African American males typically have the highest rates (Prothrow-Stith & Weissman, 1991; Smith et al., 1988; Sommers & Baskin, 1992; Zahn, 1988). The difference between homicide arrests of Hispanic and non-Hispanic white youths is substantial in these studies, but it is not as great as the difference between African American and white youths.

The existence of much larger racial and ethnic differences in arrest rates than in self-reported violence is a matter of great concern. On the one hand, there is no reason to expect similar distributions, because these measures were designed to assess different aspects of violence. But if both measures are valid and reliable, the discrepancy suggests that the probability of being arrested for a violent offense varies with race/ethnicity. Explanations for this discrepancy focus on selective reporting of offenses to the police, different patterns of police surveillance, racial/ethnic biases in self-report measures, and racial/ethnic bias on the part of police, victims, and witnesses. Some studies have explored these explanations, but their findings are not definitive (Austin & Allen, 2000; Blumstein et al., 1986; Hawkins et al., 1998; Sampson & Lauritsen, 1997). This complex issue will also be discussed in Chapter 3, which considers other dimensions of violent offending.

Arrest ratios of Native American11 to white youths are similar, except for the homicide ratio in 1998. Similarly, arrest rates of Asian Americans for homicide and robbery differ little from those of whites, but at least two whites are arrested on charges of rape or aggravated assault for every Asian American. Possible reasons for these differences have not been well studied.

In sum, racial and ethnic differences in rates of violence are greater in arrest statistics than in self-reports of violent behavior. The reasons are not well understood, with conflicting evidence from various studies. Self-reports and arrest records produce similar estimates of trends in violence by sex: Violent behavior still occurs more often among male than female youths, but the gap has been narrowing.

Violence at School

Recent shootings at schools have galvanized public concern about school safety, but studies described here find that schools nationwide are relatively safe. In contrast to public perceptions, schools have fewer homicides and nonfatal injuries than homes and neighborhoods. However, some students are at greater risk of being killed or injured at school than others -- specifically, senior high school students from racial or ethnic minorities who attend schools in urban districts (Kachur et al., 1996).

Homicides and Nonfatal Injuries

Two nationwide studies of school homicides have been conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice. The first study covered a 2-year period from July 1992 through June 1994 and identified 68 students who were killed on or near school grounds or at school-related events (Kachur et al., 1996). Most of the victims were male and were killed with a firearm. These homicides represent less than 1 percent of all youth homicides in the period studied, and the estimated incidence of school-associated violent death was 0.09 per 100,000 student-years.12 Those at greatest risk of being killed were from racial or ethnic minorities, from senior high schools, and from urban school districts. The homicide rate in urban schools, for example, was nine times greater than the rate in rural schools. Most offenders and victims alike were male, under age 20, and from a racial or ethnic minority. The most common motives were an interpersonal dispute or gang-related activities.

The second study, using the same methodology, updated the figures through June 1999 (CDC, 2000a). It identified 177 students age 5 to 19 who were killed in this 5-year period; the vast majority of the homicides (84 percent) involved firearms. School-associated homicides remained at less than 1 percent of all homicides among students, but the frequency of homicides involving more than one victim increased. The three school years from August 1995 through June 1998 saw an average of five multiple-victim homicides or homicide-suicides per year. An average of one such event occurred in each of the 3 years from August 1992 through July 1995.

Thus, trends throughout the 1990s show that the number of school homicides has been declining. Yet within this overall trend, homicides involving more than one victim appear to have been increasing.

In regard to nonfatal injuries at school, the National Crime Victimization Survey found in 1998 that the rate of serious violent crimes against youths age 12 to 18 was one-half as great when they were at school as when they were not. At school, the highest victimization rates were among male students and younger students (age 12 to 14) (Kaufman et al., 2000). The rate was highest in urban schools in 1992, but by 1998 the rates at urban, suburban, and rural schools were similar. Overall, between 1992 and 1998, the rate of serious violent crimes at school remained relatively stable at about 8 to 13 per 1,000 students (Kaufman et al., 2000).

The stability of this trend is corroborated by the MTF survey, which asks high school seniors whether they have been victims of violence. The percentage of seniors reporting that they had been injured with a weapon at school remained stable at about 5 percent from 1976 to 1998 (Flanagan & Maguire, 1992; Maguire & Pastore, 1999) (Figure 2-9). The same victimization rate is reported by the National Study of Delinquency Prevention in Schools for 1998 (Gottfredson et al., 2000). However, the MTF trend masks large fluctuations in victimization reported by African American students (Figure 2-9). From 1980 to 1998, between 4 (± 2.8) and 13 (± 3.6) percent of African American students reported having been injured with a weapon at school.

Figure 2-9. Twelfth graders injured with a weapon at school, 1980-1998.

Figure

Figure 2-9. Twelfth graders injured with a weapon at school, 1980-1998. Sources: Flanagan and Maguire, 1992; Maguire and Pastore, 1999. Data from Monitoring the Future. Entries are 3-year running averages of the percentage of 12th graders who reported (more...)

Weapons at School

Recent findings regarding students carrying weapons (a gun, knife, or club, for example) at school are encouraging. In 1999, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found that about 7 percent of all high school students reported carrying a weapon on school property within the last 30 days (Kann et al., 2000) (Figure 2-5). In 1993, almost 12 percent of high school students reported carrying a weapon at school in the last 30 days (Kann et al., 1995), a 42 percent decrease (Brener et al., 1999; Kann et al., 2000). A somewhat less pronounced decline was apparent among high school seniors in the MTF survey (Kaufman et al., 1998). Both studies found the problem to be of roughly the same magnitude: In 1995, about 6 to 8 percent of 12th graders reported carrying a weapon at school at least once during the past month.

Evidence of an upsurge in the number of students carrying weapons at school before 1993 is less clear. The YRBS first asked this question in 1993, and the MTF did not ask until the 1990s. Nonetheless, smaller or less representative studies suggest a substantial increase in weapon carrying between the 1980s and the early 1990s (reviewed in Elliott et al., 1998).

Perceptions of School Violence

Although the overall risk of violence and injury at school has not changed substantially over the past 20 years, both students and their parents report being increasingly apprehensive about their schools. Studies reveal that, during the early 1990s, students grew more fearful about being attacked or harmed at school and that they were avoiding certain places within their schools (Kaufman et al., 1998). By 1999, these fears had subsided somewhat (Kaufman et al., 2000), but parents still say they are afraid for their children at school. A recent Gallup poll found that nearly half of the parents surveyed feared for their children's safety when they sent them off to school, whereas only 24 percent of parents reported this concern in 1977 (Gallup, 1999a). In May 1999, shortly after the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, 74 percent of parents said that a school shooting was very likely or somewhat likely to happen in their community (Gallup, 1999b).

Public perceptions about school safety seem at odds with the evidence that the risk for serious violence at school has not changed substantially over the past 20 years. But several indicators of violence did increase during the epidemic -- school fights, gangs, drug use, and students carrying weapons to school. While gangs and weapon carrying have declined recently, the rates of drug use and physical fighting are high and have not changed between 1991 and 1999 (Brenner et al., 1999). Today's school bullies are still more likely to be carrying guns than those of the early 1980s, and the proportion of students reporting that they felt too unsafe to go to school has not changed since the peak of the violence epidemic in the mid-1990s. These findings add to the concern that the violence epidemic is not yet over.

Gangs and Violence

Gang members, a relatively small proportion of the adolescent population, commit the majority of serious youth violence (see Spergel, 1990, for a review). In two major longitudinal studies in Denver and Rochester (discussed in more detail in Chapter 3), 14 to 30 percent of the youths surveyed were gang members at some time during the study, and they accounted for 68 to 79 percent of the serious violence reported (Thornberry, 1998). Similar findings have been reported in other studies using nonrandomized local samples (Battin et al., 1996; Fagan, 1990). In Rochester, 66 percent of chronic violent offenders were in gangs (Huizinga et al., 1995).

A high proportion of gang members are also involved in drug sales and possessing/carrying a gun, two behaviors closely linked to serious violence. The 1999 National Youth Gang Survey (a national survey of law enforcement agencies) estimates that 46 percent of youth gang members are involved in street drug sales (Egley, 2000). In the Rochester study, 67 percent of youths reporting they owned/carried a gun for protection were gang members and 32 percent reported they sold drugs. Only 3 to 7 percent of non-gun owners or sport gun owners were involved in drug selling. Further, 85 percent of youths who owned guns for protection were involved with peers who owned guns for protection (Huizinga et al., 1995).

Rates of violence are higher in schools where gangs are present. The rate of victimization in schools with gangs is 7.5 percent, compared to 2.7 percent in schools without gangs (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). Gangs are present not only in inner-city schools, but in many suburban and rural schools as well. Between 1989 and 1995, the proportion of students reporting gangs at their school increased from 15 percent to 28 percent (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). By 1999, however, that figure had dropped to 17 percent (Kaufman et al., 2000). A decline in the number of gangs in U.S. schools between 1996 and 1997 has also been reported by law enforcement agencies (National Youth Gang Center, 1999).

The National Youth Gang Survey reported more than 26,000 active youth gangs in schools and communities in 1999, down 15 percent from 1996 (Egley, 2000). Yet the same survey reported more than 840,500 active gang members in 1999, a decline of less than 1 percent from the peak level in 1996. Thus, from this source, it appears that the number of youths actively involved in gangs remains very high.

The racial/ethnic composition of gangs in 1999 was 47 percent Hispanic, 31 percent African American, 13 percent non-Hispanic white, and 7 percent Asian. These rates have been relatively constant since 1990.

In 1998, 92 percent of all gang members were male (National Youth Gang Center, 2000), although some evidence indicated that girls' involvement in gangs increased during the epidemic (Chesney-Lind et al., 1996; Chesney-Lind & Brown, 1999; Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). However, the National Youth Gang Survey reports a decline in female membership, with less than 2 percent of gangs nationwide reporting predominantly female membership.

Conclusions

The United States suffered an epidemic of violence in the decade from about 1983 to 1993. Arrest rates of young people for homicide and other violent crimes skyrocketed. Several other violence indicators confirmed an epidemic of violence during that period.

There are three factors that appear to play a significant role in this dramatic surge in lethal violence or injury: gangs, drugs, and guns. The combination of increased involvement in gangs, selling drugs on the street, and carrying guns for protection had lethal implications. And it was African American and Hispanic males who were disproportionately caught up in this set of circumstances.

After 1993/1994, arrests and victims' reports of violence began to decline, returning in 1999 to rates only slightly higher than those in 1983. These declines come as welcome news. Yet several other leading indicators of violence remain high. Young people's self-reports of violence have not declined at all. Arrest rates for aggravated assault remain quite high. Some estimates of gang membership indicate that this problem remains close to levels at the peak of the epidemic. Indeed, self-reported violent behavior is at least as high today as it was in 1993. Why has this important indicator of violence remained high while other indicators have come down?

A major reason is firearms usage. It is now clear that the violence epidemic was caused largely by an upsurge in the use of firearms by young people. Ready access to firearms during a violent confrontation often had grievous consequences. Youth violence became more lethal, resulting in dramatically higher rates of homicide and serious injury. This triggered reporting to and response from police, leading to higher rates of arrest. Although firearm usage may not cause violence, it clearly increases the severity of violence.

Today's youth violence is less lethal, largely because of a decline in the use of firearms. Fewer young people today are carrying weapons, including guns, and fewer are taking them to school. Homicides at school are declining. Violent confrontations are less likely to result in killing or serious injury, and the police are less likely to be called in for an arrest.

This is a heartening trend, but this is not the time for complacency. Violent behavior is just as prevalent today as it was during the violence epidemic. Some 10 to 15 percent of high school seniors reveal in confidential surveys that they have committed at least one act of serious violence in the past year. This prevalence rate has been slowly yet steadily rising since 1980.

There is also a difference by sex in the volume of violence. Male youths commit many more violent acts than female youths, according to both arrest records and self-reports. The existence of a racial difference between African American and white youths is more questionable. Arrest records indicate that many more African American than white youths commit violent crimes, whereas self-reports indicate much smaller racial differences in incident rates and nonexistent differences in prevalence rates. The disparities between these two indicators of violence have not been satisfactorily investigated, and more research on them is clearly warranted.

Looking at all self-reported violent behavior, it is apparent that youth violence still poses a serious public health problem. Should firearms once again become appealing and accessible to young people, the potential for a recurrence of the violence epidemic is quite real. The magnitude of serious violence occurring beneath the police radar should warn us that youth violence is a persistent problem demanding a focus on prevention.

References

  1. Austin, R. L., & Allen, M. D Racial disparities in arrest rates as an explanation of racial disparity in commitment to Pennsylvania prisons. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, (2000);37:200–220.
  2. Battin, S., Hill, K. G., Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Abbott, R Testing gang membership and association with antisocial peers as independent predictors of antisocial behavior: Gang members compared to non-gang members of law-violating youth groups. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Chicago. (1996)
  3. Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., Roth, J. A., & Visher, C. A (1986) Criminal careers and "career criminals." Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  4. Blumstein, A., & Wallman, J (2000) The crime drop in America. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
  5. Brener, N. D., Collins, J. L., Kann, L., Warren, C. W., & Williams, B. I Reliability of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey Questionnaire. American Journal of Epidemiology, (1995);141:575–580. [PubMed: 7900725]
  6. Brener, N. D., Simon, T. R., Krug, E. G., & Lowry, R Recent trends in violence-related behaviors among high school students in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association, (1999);282:440–446. [PubMed: 10442659]
  7. Assessing health risk behaviors among young people: Youth risk behavior surveillance system, at-a-glance, 2000. Available on the World Wide Web: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/yrbs/yrbsaag.htm. (2000a)
  8. Special analysis of 1999 YRBS data. Atlanta, GA. (2000b)
  9. Rates of homicide, suicide, and firearm-related death among children: 26 industrialized countries. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, (1997);46:101–105. [PubMed: 9045035]
  10. Cherry, D., Annest, J. L., Mercy, J. A., Kresnow, M., & Pollock, D. A Trends in non-fatal firearm-related injury rates in the United States: 1985-1995. Annals of Emergency Medicine, (1998);32:51–59. [PubMed: 9656949]
  11. Chesney-Lind, M., & Brown, M (1999) Girls and violence. In D. J. Flannery & C. R. Huff (Eds.), Youth violence: Prevention, intervention and social policy (pp. 171-199). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
  12. Chesney-Lind, M., Shelden, R., & Joe, L. K Girls, delinquency and gang membership. In C. R. Huff (Ed.), Gangs in America (pp. 185-204). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. (1996)
  13. Cook, P. J., & Laub, J. H (1998) The unprecedented epidemic in youth violence. In M. Tonry & M. H. Moore (Eds.), Youth violence. Crime and justice: A review of research (Vol. 24, pp. 27-64). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  14. Dunford, F. W., & Elliott, D. S Identifying career offenders using self-report data. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, (1984);21:57–86.
  15. Egley, A., Jr Highlights of the 1999 National Youth Gang Survey (OJJDP Fact Sheet #20). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2000)
  16. Elliott, D. S Violent offending over the life course: A sociological perspective. In N. A. Krasnegor, N. B. Anderson, & D. R. Bynum (Eds.), Health and behavior (Vol. 1, pp. 189-204). Rockville, MD: National Institutes of Health, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences. (2000a)
  17. Elliott, D. S Special analysis prepared for this report by D. S. Elliott, principal investigator, National Youth Survey. (2000b)
  18. Elliott, D. S Review essay: Measuring delinquency. Criminology, (1982);20:527–538.
  19. Elliott, D. S., Hagan, J., & McCord, J Youth violence: Children at risk. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association (Spirack Program in Applied Social Research and Social Policy) (1998)
  20. Elliott, D. S., & Huizinga, D Improving self-report measures of delinquency. In M. Klein (Ed.), Cross-national research in self-reported crime and delinquency (pp. 155-186). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. (1989)
  21. Elliott, D. S., Huizinga, D., & Menard, S (1989) Multiple problem youth: Delinquency, substance use and mental health problems. New York: Springer-Verlag.
  22. Fagan, J Social processes of delinquency and drug use among urban gangs. In C. R. Huff (Ed.), Gangs in America (pp. 266-275). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. (1990)
  23. Flanagan, T. J., & Maguire, K. (Eds.) Sourcebook of criminal justice statistics, 1991 (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 137369). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. (1992)
  24. Parents of children in K-12. August 24-26, 1999. Princeton, NJ. (1999a)
  25. 1025 adults. May 7-9, 1999. Princeton, NJ. (1999b)
  26. Geerken, M. R Rap sheets in criminological research: Considerations and caveats. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, (1994);10:3–21.
  27. Gottfredson, G. D., Gottfredson, D. C., Czeh, E. R., Cantor, D., Crosse, S. B., & Hantman, I Summary: National study of delinquency prevention in schools. Ellicott City, MD: Gottfredson Associates. [Also available on the World Wide Web: http://www​.gottfredson.com/national.htm] (2000)
  28. Hawkins, D. F., Laub, J. H., & Lauritsen, J. L Race, ethnicity, and serious juvenile offending. In R. Loeber & D. P. Farrington (Eds.), Serious and violent juvenile offenders: Risk factors and successful interventions (pp. 30-46). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. (1998)
  29. Hindelang, M. J., Hirschi, T., & Weis, J. G Measuring delinquency. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. (1981)
  30. Huizinga, D., & Elliott, D. S Reassessing the reliability and validity of self-report delinquency measures. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, (1986);2:293–327.
  31. Huizinga, D., Esbensen, F., & Weiher, A The impact of arrest on subsequent delinquent behavior. In R. Loeber, D. Huizinga, & R. P. Thornberry (Eds.), Program of research on the causes and correlates of delinquency, annual report, 1995-1996 (pp. 82-101). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (1996)
  32. Huizinga, D., Loeber, R., & Thornberry, T. P Recent findings from the program of research on the causes and correlates of delinquency (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, NCJ 159042). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. (1995)
  33. Johnston, L Personal communication. (2000)
  34. Junger-Tas, J., Terlouw, G. J., & Klein, M. W Delinquent behavior among young people in the western world: First results of the international self-report delinquency study. Amsterdam: Kugler Publications. (1994)
  35. Kachur, S. P., Stennies, G. M., Powell, K. E., Modzeleski, W., Stephens, R., Murphy, R., Kresnow, M., Sleet, D., & Lowry, R School-associated violent deaths in the United States, 1992 to 1994. Journal of the American Medical Association, (1996);275:1729–1733. [PubMed: 8637169]
  36. Kann, L., Kinchen, S. A., Williams, B. I., Ross, J. G., Lowry, R., Grunbaum, J. A., Kolbe, L. J., & State and Local YRBSS Coordinators Youth risk behavior surveillance -- United States, 1999. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report CDC Surveillance Summary, (2000);49:1–96. [PubMed: 12412614]
  37. Kann, L., Warren, C. W., Harris, W. A., Collins, J. L., Douglas, K. A., Collins, M. E., Williams, B. I., Ross, J. G., & Kolbe, L. J Youth risk behavior surveillance -- United States, 1993. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report CDC Surveillance Summary, (1995);44:1–56. [PubMed: 7739513]
  38. Kaufman, P., Chen, X., Choy, S. P., Chandler, K. A., Chapman, C. D., Rand, M. R., & Ringel, C Indicators of school crime and safety, 1998 (NCJ 172215/NCES 98-251). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics; U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement. (1998)
  39. Kaufman, P., Chen, X., Choy, S. P., Ruddy, S. A., Miller, A. K., Fleury, J. K., Chandler, K. A., Rand, M. R., Klaus, P., & Planty, M. G Indicators of school crime and safety, 2000 (NCES 2001-017/NCJ-184176). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Justice. (2000)
  40. Kolbe, L. J., Kann, L., & Collins, J. L Overview of the youth risk behavior surveillance system. Public Health Reports, (1993);108:2–10. [PMC free article: PMC1403301] [PubMed: 8210269]
  41. Loeber, R., Farrington, D. P., & Waschbusch, D. A Serious and violent juvenile offenders. In R. Loeber & D. P. Farrington (Eds.), Serious and violent juvenile offenders: Risk factors and successful interventions (pp. 13-29). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. (1998)
  42. Maguire, K., & Pastore, A. L Sourcebook of criminal justice statistics, 1998 (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 176356). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. [Also available on the World Wide Web: http://www​.albany.edu/sourcebook/] (1999)
  43. Maguire, K., & Pastore, A. L Sourcebook of criminal justice statistics, 1994 (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 154591). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. (1995)
  44. Menard, S., & Elliott, D. S Data set comparability and short-term trends in delinquency. Journal of Criminal Justice, (1993);21:433–445.
  45. 1997 National Youth Gang Survey: Summary (NCJ 178891). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. [Also available on the World Wide Web: http://www​.ncjrs.org​/pdffiles1/ojjdp/178891.pdf] (1999)
  46. Prothrow-Stith, D., & Weissman, M Deadly consequences: How violence is destroying our teenage population and a plan to begin solving the problem. New York: Harper-Collins. (1991)
  47. Sampson, R. J., & Lauritsen, J. L (1997) Racial and ethnic disparities in crime and criminal justice in the United States. In M. Tonry & M. H. Moore (Eds.), Youth violence. Crime and justice: A review of research (Vol. 24, pp. 311-374). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  48. Smith, J. C., Mercy, J.A., & Rosenberg, M.L Comparison of homicides among Anglos and Hispanics in five southwestern states. Border Health, (1988);4:2–15.
  49. Snyder, H. N. (unpublished) Juvenile arrest rates by race, 1980-1999 and juvenile arrest rates by sex, 1980-1999. Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice.
  50. Snyder, H. N Juvenile arrests, 1998 (Juvenile Justice Bulletin, Dec. 1999, NCJ 179064). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (1999)
  51. Snyder, H. N., & Sickmund, M Juvenile offenders and victims: 1999 national report (NCJ 178257). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. [Also available on the World Wide Web: http://www. ncjrs.org/html/ojjdp/nationalreport99/toc.html] (1999)
  52. Sommers, I., & Baskin, D Sex, race, age, and violent offending. Violence and Victims, (1992);7:191–201. [PubMed: 1294235]
  53. Soriano, F. I U.S. Latinos. In L. D. Eron, J. H. Gentry, & P. Schlegel (Eds.), Reason to hope: A psychological perspective on violence and youth (pp. 119-132). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. (1998)
  54. Spergel, I. A (1990) Youth gangs: Continuity and change. In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Youth violence. Crime and justice: A review of research (Vol. 12., pp. 171-275). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  55. Thornberry, T. P Membership in youth gangs and involvement in serious violent offending. In R. Loeber & D. P. Farrington (Eds.), Serious and violent juvenile offenders: Risk factors and successful interventions (pp. 147-166). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. (1998)
  56. Crime in the United States, 1999. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. (2000)
  57. Wintemute, G (2000) Guns and gun violence. In A. Blumstein & J. Wallman (Eds.), The crime drop in America (pp. 45-96). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
  58. Zahn, M. A Homicide in nine American cities: The Hispanic case. In J. F. Krause, S. B. Sorenson, & P. D. Juarez (Eds.), Research conference on violence and homicide in Hispanic communities, September 1987 (pp. 13-30). Los Angeles: University of California Publication Services. (1988)

Appendix 2-A

Number, percent, and rates of nonfatal firearm-related injuries of youths age 10-19 treated in hospital emergency departments, 1993-1998*

Appendix 2-A

Number, percent, and rates of nonfatal firearm-related injuries of youths age 10-19 treated in hospital emergency departments, 1993-1998*.

Table

Number, percent, and rates of nonfatal firearm-related injuries of youths age 10-19 treated in hospital emergency departments, 1993-1998*.

Footnotes

1

Questions have been raised about potential racial/ethnic biases in both types of measures. There is evidence that arrests of whites, compared to those of African Americans, are underrepresented in local arrest records and archives (Geerken, 1994). Some studies find racial/ethnic bias in arrests and other justice system processing, while others do not (for reviews, see Austin & Allen, 2000; Hawkins et al., 1998; Sampson & Lauritsen, 1997). Comparisons of an individual's arrest and self-reported offenses reveal a greater discrepancy for African Americans than whites, with African American males self-reporting fewer of the offenses found in their official records (Hindelang et al., 1981; Huizinga & Elliott, 1986). If one accepts the accuracy of arrest records, this finding would indicate an underreporting on the part of African American males, but there are reasons to question this assumption (see Elliott, 1982; Huizinga & Elliott, 1986). The question of racial/ethnic bias in both measures remains controversial.

2

Youths are victims in about 27 percent of homicides committed by other youths (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999).

3

The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS); NEISS is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

4

Begun in 1990, the YRBS is a national school-based survey conducted every 2 years by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with Federal, state, and local partners. It is representative of students in grades 9 through 12 in both public and private schools. YRBS monitors six important health behaviors, including those that may result in violent injuries. The survey is voluntary, anonymous, provides for parental consent for minors, and oversamples minorities (Kolbe et al., 1993). The 1999 survey included more than 15,000 respondents (Kann et al., 2000).

5

This self-reported incident rate appears to be much higher (e.g., almost 400 assaults with injury and robberies with a weapon were reported per 1,000 high school seniors in 1998) than the arrest rate for aggravated assault and robbery (about 350 arrests per 100,000 youth, see Figure 2-2), but the two are not strictly comparable: high school seniors (17- and 18-year-olds) have much higher arrest rates as a group than do 10- to 17-year-olds.

6

The MTF prevalence estimates for both violent behavior and drug use have been confirmed by other studies in which there is overlap in years and ages. For example, see Elliott et al. (1989) and Menard and Elliott (1993).

7

About 16,000 high school seniors at 130 schools participate, although only about 3,000 of the students are asked questions about their violent behavior. Since the beginning of the survey in 1975, the participation rate among schools has ranged from 60 to 80 percent, and the student response rate has ranged from 77 to 86 percent (Kaufman et al., 1998).

8

The prevalence rates for assault with injury and robbery are not additive.

9

The rates for both the National Youth Survey and the city surveys were calculated by the senior scientific editor of this report (Elliott, 2000b) from gender-specific data in Elliott et al. (1998) and Huizinga et al. (1995).

10

Calculations by Elliott, senior scientific editor, from Snyder (unpublished).

11

The 1998 arrest rate was atypically high for the 1993-1999 period. This rate was twice the rate for every other year over this period and appears to be an anomaly.

12

Figure includes 63 homicides and 12 suicides.

Views

  • PubReader
  • Print View
  • Cite this Page

Related information

  • PMC
    PubMed Central citations
  • PubMed
    Links to PubMed

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...