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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017

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. In addition, 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 schools.107 One measure of youth violence is the rate of serious violent crimes committed by juveniles. 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.

Indicator BEH5.A: Rate of serious violent crimes by youth perpetrators ages 12–17, 1980–2015
Indicator BEH5.A: Rate of serious violent crimes by youth perpetrators ages 12–17, 1980–2015

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 juvenile offender, to the number of juveniles in the population. Homicide data were not available for 2015 at the time of publication. The number of homicides for 2014 is included in the overall total for 2015. In 2014, 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, http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=765, for more information on the redesigned methodology.

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, 1980–2015
Indicator BEH5.B: Percentage of youth-perpetrated serious violence involving multiple offenders ages 12–17, 1980–2015

NOTE: Caution is warranted when assuming year-to-year comparisons not explicitly discussed in this indicator. Although one estimate may be larger than another, estimates based on a sample have some degree of sampling error.

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

  • In 2015, the serious violent crime offending rate was 8 crimes per 1,000 juveniles ages 12–17, with a total of 188,000 such crimes involving juveniles. This was similar to the rate in 2014.
  • In 2015, about 14 percent of all serious violent crimes reportedly involved a juvenile offender.
  • In 44 percent of all youth-perpetrated serious violent crimes reported by victims in 2015, more than one offender was involved in the incident.

table icon BEH5 HTML Table

107 Huizinga, D., Loeber, R., Thornberry, T., & Cothern, L. (2000). Co-occurrence of delinquency and other problem behaviors. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/html/
cd_rom/school_safety/pubs/GOV09.pdf