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TRENDS IN JUVENILE CRIME OVER THE PERIOD 2004-2014

Measured in terms of arrests, juvenile crime in the United States has undergone major shifts over the past 20 years. Juvenile arrest rates for violent crimes rose sharply from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s but began decreasing in the mid- 1990s. During the period 2004-2012, juvenile arrest rates for violent and property crimes continued their general decreasing trend that began in the mid-1990s (Fig. 7.1) (Puzzanchera & Kang 2014).

The major source of official data on juvenile offending is the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR). In 2012, an estimated 1.3 million juveniles were arrested. Nearly three-quarters of these arrests were for nonindex offenses (i.e., 21 generally less serious offenses, including drug abuse violations, simple assaults, and vandalism) (Puzzanchera & Kang 2014). Thus, although a substantial number of juveniles were arrested each year, the vast majority were arrested for minor offenses. Only 5 % of juvenile arrests (61,070) were for violent index crimes (i.e., murder/nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault), of which 720 were for murder. Twenty-two percent of juvenile arrests were for property index crimes (i.e., burglary, larceny- theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson), 76 %> of which involved larceny-theft.

Juvenile crime is largely a male phenomenon. In 2012, females contributed 29 % of all juvenile arrests and only 19 % of those in the violent index category (Puzzanchera 2014). With the exception of prostitution, males committed the majority of every crime in each category in the UCR in 2012, but female arrests did account for a large portion of many nonviolent offenses (e.g., 42 % of larceny-thefts

Juvenile arrest rates (per 100,000) in the United States. Source

Figure 7.1. Juvenile arrest rates (per 100,000) in the United States. Source: Puzzanchera and Kang (2014).

and 39 % of embezzlement arrests). Over the period from 2003 to 2012, the number of arrests for both males and females decreased for all crimes.

Juvenile arrests were also disproportionately concentrated among racial minorities (Puzzanchera 2014). Although rates of arrest for overall and property offenses followed the same general trend for Blacks and Whites, arrest rates for Blacks are approximately double those for Whites. The gap between Whites and Blacks is much more pronounced for violent crimes. However, in 2000 there was a dramatic shift in offending, as the arrest rate for violent crime among Blacks dropped to its lowest level in decades and the gap in arrest rates of Blacks and Whites narrowed.

 
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