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TRENDS IN JUVENILE CRIME

Mexico started to systematically collect data on juveniles in 2010. There are several important trends that will be particularly pertinent to those interested in juvenile crime policy.

First, between 2009 and 2014, the total number of juveniles charged with crimes nationwide decreased by 28 %. Overall, this is a very positive trend. At this pace, the total number of juveniles charged with a crime may be reduced to half before the year 2020 (Fig. 6.2).

This trend may be attributed to a decrease in the number of repeat offenders in the same period (-27 %>), but also the total number of first-time offenders has

Total number of juveniles charged with a crime per gender, 2009-2014. Source

Figure 6.2. Total number of juveniles charged with a crime per gender, 2009-2014. Source: Author’s own based on INEGI data. Data on gender for 2014 has not yet been released.

Total number of juveniles charged with crimes as first timers or repeat offenders, 2009-2014. Source

Figure 6.3. Total number of juveniles charged with crimes as first timers or repeat offenders, 2009-2014. Source: Author’s own based on INEGI data. Other data for 2014 has not yet been released.

experienced a significant reduction (-9 %).[1] The percent of repeat offenders in the total number of juveniles charged with a crime has varied around 11 % and 14 % of the total (Fig. 6.3).

In fact, Table 6.1 shows that the trends between adults and juveniles charged with a crime seem to differ considerably between 2009 and 2014. The rate of juveniles charged with a crime per 100 thousand has decreased by almost a third in only 6 years. On the other hand, the rate of adults has increased by a fifth in the same period.

Regarding the type of crime, most juveniles are charged with theft or robbery. However, there has been a noticeable increase recently in the proportion of juveniles charged with drug crimes and assault. The proportion of juveniles charged with homicide is not small: around 5 % every year. This statistic is not different from the adult population charged with a homicide crime. In 2013, 6 % of adults charged with a crime have been charged with a homicide.[2] Of course, there are major differences in terms of magnitude between these two populations. In the same year, 174 thousand adults were charged in comparison to (almost) 11 thousand minors (Table 6.2).[3]

Table 6.1. Mexico: Juveniles charged with crimes per type of crime, 2011-2014

Total number

Rates per 100 thousand

Juveniles

Adults

Juveniles

Adults

2009

12,404

142,111

99.0

233.3

2010

11,239

150,731

88.9

240.3

2011

11,684

151,820

91.7

235.2

2012

10,583

170,017

82.3

256.2

2013

10,963

197,046

84.6

289.0

2014

8873

199,563

67.9

285.1

Relative change

-28.5 %

40.4 %

-31.4 %

22.2 %

Source: Author’s own based on INEGI data and population estimates of minors aged 12—17 and adults respectively. Data does not include federal crimes

Table 6.2. Mexico: Juveniles charged per type of crime, 2011-2013

2011

2012

2013

Juveniles charged

11,684

10,583

10,963

Theft/robbery

67.5 %

65.8 %

59.4 %

Drug dealing

3.5 %

3.6 %

5.3 %

Homicide

5.1 %

5.1 %

5.0 %

Assault

2.7 %

3.1 %

3.6 %

Sexual crimes

5.1 %

4.2 %

3.6 %

Other crimes

16.1 %

18.2 %

23.1 %

Total

100.0 %

100.0 %

100.0 %

Source: Author’s own based on INEGI data

Table 6.3. Mexico: Juveniles charged with a crime per gender,

2006-2013

Total

Male (%)

Female (%)

2006

33,665

90.2

9.8

2007

22,969

91.1

8.9

2008

17,878

93.9

6.1

2009

12,404

94.5

5.5

2010

11,239

93.4

6.6

2011

11,684

92.8

7.2

2012

10,583

93.4

6.6

2013

10,963

92.7

7.3

Total change

-22,702

2.6

-2.6

Relative change

-67.4 %

2.9

-26.2

Source: Author’s own based on INEGI data

As expected, there are less female juveniles than males. Their proportion in the total population of juveniles charged with a crime in 2013 was 26 % less than in 2006 (see Table 6.3).

Gender surely plays a role in criminal behavior. In 2013, female juveniles were more likely to be associated or charged with drug dealing, an assault, or a

Table 6.4. Mexico: Juveniles charged with crimes by gender and type of crime, 2013

Male

Female

Juveniles charged

10,167

796

Theft/robbery

60.4 %

47.1 %

Drug dealing

5.0 %

9.4 %

Homicide

5.1 %

3.9 %

Assault

3.3 %

7.7 %

Sexual crimes

3.9 %

0.0 %

Kidnappinga

1.4 %

3.6 %

Other crimes

20.9 %

28.3 %

Total

100.0 %

100.0 %

Source: Author’s own based on INEGI data

aThis crime is not reported in previous table as it is a very low-

frequency crime overall

kidnapping, whereas males were much more likely to be associated or charged with theft/robbery or a homicide. It is very notable that females are two times more likely to be charged with a drug-dealing crime (i.e., narcomenudeo). This type of crime is loosely defined in current legislation as the possession, trading, supply, or any other conduct related to the narcotics expressly forbidden in the Mexican public health legislation[4] and only when the quantity in question is less than 1 thousand times the amount established by the law for personal and immediate consumption (Table 6.4).[5]

The reasons for these differences between juvenile males and females are not known, but some hypotheses are not hard to present as an invitation for future research: One is that Mexican organized crime in cities is beginning to use girls to sell drugs in small amounts (i.e., narcomenudeo) as they are less likely to be stopped and searched by the local police.[6] With regard to kidnapping crimes, it might be the case that more females are charged because they are more likely to be found and arrested in police raids of kidnapping houses, as their role in the gang is normally to feed and watch the victim rather than to participate in the actual kidnap.

  • [1] At the moment of writing, not all data on juveniles had been released from the latest 2015 NationalCensus of Government, Public Security and State Prison System (with data from 2014).
  • [2] Source: National Census of Government, Public Security and State Prison System of 2014
  • [3] Of these, 10,503 were charged with a homicide.
  • [4] Ley General de Salud
  • [5] Each type of substance has specific amounts established as for personal consumption.
  • [6] I want to thank my colleague Alejandro Hope for this insight.
 
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