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America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2016

Youth Victims of Serious Violent Crimes

Violence frequently has dire and long-lasting impacts on young people who experience, witness, or feel threatened by it. In addition to causing direct physical harm to young victims, serious violence can adversely affect their mental health and development and increase the likelihood that they themselves will commit acts of serious violence. Examining violent victimization rates by race and ethnicity is important for understanding whether the risk for victimization differs for youth from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.48, 49

Figure 15: Serious violent victimization rates for youth ages 12–17 by race and Hispanic origin, 1993–2014
Serious violent victimization rates for youth ages 12–17 by race and Hispanic origin, 1993–2014

NOTE: Estimates from 1993 to 2013 are based on 3-year rolling averages centered on the year reported. For example, 1993 estimates were calculated by averaging 1992, 1993, and 1994 estimates. Estimates for 2014 are based on a 2-year average of 2013 and 2014 estimates. Serious violent victimizations include aggravated assault, rape, robbery, and homicide. Data on race and Hispanic origin are collected separately and persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Homicide data are collected using the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR), for which Hispanic origin is not available. Homicide is included in estimates among Black and White youth, but the victim may have been Hispanic. Homicide data were not available for 2014 at the time of publication. The 2013 homicide estimates are included in the 2014 victimization estimates. In 2013, homicides represented less than 1 percent of serious violent crime. Estimates exclude series victimizations, defined as victimizations that are similar in type but occur with such frequency that a victim is unable to recall each individual event or to describe each event in detail. In 2013–2014, about 2 percent of non-fatal serious violent victimizations committed against youth ages 12–17 were series victimizations. Due to methodological changes in the 2006 National Crime Victimization Survey, use caution when comparing 2006 criminal victimization estimates to those of other years. See Criminal Victimization, 2007,, for more information.

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

  • For all youth ages 12–17, the rate of serious violent victimization declined sharply from the early 1990s through the early 2000s and has declined more slowly since then. In 1993, youth ages 12–17 experienced 40 serious violent crimes per 1,000 youth, compared with 18 crimes per 1,000 youth in 2000 and 8 crimes per 1,000 youth in 2014.
  • From 1993 to 2014, the rate at which White, non-Hispanic youth were victims of serious violent crimes decreased from 36 crimes per 1,000 youth to 7 crimes per 1,000 youth.
  • Over the same period, the serious violent victimization rate for Black, non-Hispanic youth decreased from 54 crimes per 1,000 youth in 1993 to 11 crimes per 1,000 youth in 2014.
  • Serious violent victimization rates decreased for Hispanic youth from 52 crimes per 1,000 youth in 1993 to 9 crimes per 1,000 youth in 2014.
  • In 2014, there were no significant differences in the rates at which White, non-Hispanic, Black, non-Hispanic, and Hispanic youth ages 12–17 were victims of serious violent crimes.

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48 Turner, H. A., Finkelhor, D., & Ormrod, R. (2006). The effect of lifetime victimization on the mental health of children and adolescents. Social Science and Medicine, 62(1), 13–27. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.05.030

49 Schreck, C. J., Stewart, E. A., & Osgood, D. W. (2008). A reappraisal of the overlap of violent offenders and victims. Criminology, 46(4), 871–905. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9125.2008.00127.x