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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2021

Youth Perpetrators of Serious Violent Crimes

Youth who commit violent crimes tend to exhibit multiple problematic behaviors that affect their well-being, including drug use, risky sexual behaviors, and problems in school.98 One measure of youth violence is the rate of serious violent crimes committed by juveniles. Because insufficient data exist 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.

Indicator BEH5.A: Rate of serious violent crimes by youth perpetrators ages 12–17, 2005–2019
Indicator BEH5.A: Rate of serious violent crimes by youth perpetrators ages 12–17, 2005–2019

NOTE: The 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 ages 12–17, plus the number of homicides reported to the police that involved at least one known juvenile offender, to the number of juveniles in the population. Homicide data were not available from this source for 2019 at the time of publication. The number of homicides for 2018 is included in the overall total for 2019. In 2018, homicides represented less than 1% of serious violent crime, and the total number of homicides by juveniles has been relatively stable over the last decade. See Criminal Victimization, 2006 (http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=765) for more information on the redesigned methodology. Due to methodological changes, use caution when comparing 2006 estimates to other years. Estimates for 2016 are not included because, in 2016, the National Crime Victimization Survey sample was redesigned, so 2016 estimates among youth are not comparable with estimates from other years.

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

Indicator BEH5.B: Percentage of youth-perpetrated serious violence involving multiple offenders ages 12–17, 2005–2019
Indicator BEH5.B: Percentage of youth-perpetrated serious violence involving multiple offenders ages 12–17, 2005–2019

NOTE: In 2016, the National Crime Victimization Survey sample was redesigned, so 2016 estimates among youth are not comparable to estimates from other years.

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

  • In 2019, the serious violent crime offending rate was 6 crimes per 1,000 juveniles ages 12–17, with a total of 146,000 such crimes involving juveniles. This rate was not significantly different from the rate in 2018.
  • The violent crime offending rate has declined 66%from 17 crimes per 1,000 juveniles ages 12–17 in 2005 to 6 crimes per 1,000 in 2019.
  • In 30% of all youth-perpetrated serious violent crimes reported by victims in 2019, more than one offender was involved in the incident.























table icon BEH5 HTML Table

98 Huizinga, D., Loeber, R., Thornberry, T., & Cothern, L. (2000). Co-occurrence of delinquency and other problem behaviors. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/library/ publications/co-occurrence-delinquency-and-other-problem-behaviors