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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Youth Perpetrators of Serious Violent Crimes

The level of youth violence in society can be viewed as an indicator of youths' ability to control their behavior and the adequacy of socializing agents such as families, peers, schools, and religious institutions to supervise or channel youth behavior to acceptable norms. One measure of youth violence is the rate of serious violent crimes committed by juveniles.

Indicator Beh5: Rate of serious violent crimes by youth perpetrators ages 12–17, 1980–2011
Rate of serious violent crimes by youth perpetrators ages 12–17, 1980–2011

NOTE: The offending rate is the ratio of the number of crimes (aggravated assault, rape, and robbery, i.e., stealing by force or threat of violence) reported to the National Crime Victimization Survey that involved at least one offender perceived by the victim to be 12–17 years of age, plus the number of homicides reported to the police that involved at least one juvenile offender, to the number of juveniles in the population. Homicide data were not available for 2011 at the time of publication. The number of homicides for 2010 is included in the overall total for 2011. In 2010, homicides represented less than 1 percent of serious violent crime, and the total number of homicides by juveniles has been relatively stable over the last decade. Because of changes made in the victimization survey, data prior to 1992 are adjusted to make them comparable with data collected under the redesigned methodology. See Criminal Victimization, 2006,

SOURCE: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey and Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Supplementary Homicide Reports.

  • In 2011, the serious violent crime offending rate was 6 crimes per 1,000 juveniles ages 12–17, with a total of 154,000 such crimes involving juveniles. This was similar to the rate in 2010, but it was substantially lower than the 1993 peak rate of 52 crimes per 1,000 juveniles ages 12–17.
  • Since 1980, serious violent crime involving juvenile offenders has ranged from 19 percent of all serious violent crimes in 1982 to 26 percent in 1993, the peak year for youth violence. In 2011, some 10 percent of all such victimizations reportedly involved a juvenile offender.
  • In 58 percent of all serious violent juvenile crimes reported by victims in 2011, more than one offender was involved in the incident. Because insufficient information exists to determine the ages of each individual offender when a crime is committed by more than one perpetrator, the number of additional juvenile offenders cannot be determined. Therefore, this rate of serious violent crime offending does not represent the number of juvenile offenders in the population, but rather the rate of crimes perpetrated by a juvenile.

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