Study Shows Steep Rise In Juvenile Violent Crime

By Millicent Lawton — September 09, 1992 2 min read

In 1990, nearly three in four juveniles who committed murder used a gun in the crime.

The rise in violent crimes by juveniles during the 1980’s coincided with a sharp upturn in the arrest rate for heroin and cocaine and in a far greater use of illegal weapons, the annual Uniform Crime Reports study concludes.

This year’s report, released late last month, is the first to include a separate look at juveniles and violence.

Violent crimes involved juveniles from a broad socioeconomic spectrum--not limited to disadvantaged inner-city youths, but “evident in all races, social classes, and lifestyles,’' the study, entitled “Crime in the United States, 1991,’' states.

And state data, the FBI reports, show that the trend also has a broad geographic base nationally. In the 1980’s, three out of four states experienced significant increases in their arrest rates for violent crimes by juveniles.

The report includes arrests of juveniles ages 10 to 17. The study notes that youngsters in that age bracket account for 98 percent of all juvenile arrests for violent crimes.

Between 1980 and 1990, the arrest rate for juveniles charged with violent crimes went up 27 percent, to 430 per 100,000, the study found. For black youths, the violent-crime arrest rate reached 1,429 per 100,000 in 1990--five times the rate for white juveniles.

Violent-crime arrest rates for both black and white juveniles increased substantially between 1965 and 1990, the years included in the study, with a sharp upward turn in 1988 for black and white youths and a downward shift in the “other race’’ category.

A large increase nationally in the number of Asian juveniles--historically the juveniles least likely to commit crimes--explains much of that other-race downturn, the report notes.

Use of Guns

Robbery was the only violent-crime category--among murder, forcible rape, and aggravated assault--not to show a significant increase in juvenile arrest rates between 1980 and 1990, the FBI found.

Final arrest statistics for 1991, which the report notes became available after its completion, show that the upward surge in violent crime by juveniles persists.

The most dramatic upswing in violent-crime arrest rates during the 1980’s occurred for black youths charged with murder. Between 1980 and 1990, the murder arrest rate for that group increased 145 percent to nearly 50 per 100,000.

The rate for whites rose 48 percent and declined 45 percent for other races, the FBI found.

Another “item of concern,’' the report states, is that the 1980’s saw a 79 percent rise in the number of juveniles who use guns to commit murder.

In 1990, nearly three in four juveniles who committed murder used a gun in the crime.