Delinquency & Victimization
Children and youth are victims of theft and violent crimes. Some juveniles are victims of abuse and neglect at the hands of their parents or other caregivers. The term “dependent and neglected children” describes those who are not provided with proper shelter, clothing, food, clean and safe living conditions, and medical needs. Child abuse ranges from verbal abuse to physical and sexual abuse.
The term “dependent and neglected children” describes those who are not provided with proper shelter, clothing, food, clean and safe living conditions, and medical needs. Child abuse ranges from verbal abuse to physical and sexual abuse.
The extent of child victimization is reported by the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007). Child victimization has been linked to problem behaviors, delinquency, and criminal behavior later in life. An understanding of victimization and juvenile delinquency is, therefore, important for a better understanding of the most appropriate juvenile justice system responses to these problems.
Highlights from the Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report (Snyder & Sickmund, 2006) indicate the seriousness and extent of juvenile victimization in the United States:
- On average, between 1980 and 2002 about 2,000 juveniles were murdered annually in the United States.
- In 2002, on average, four juveniles were murdered daily in the United States.
- Children under 6 years of age who were victims of murder were most often killed by a parent.
- Nearly one million (906,000) children were victims of abuse or neglect in 2003, a rate of 12 victims per 1,000 children ages 0–17.
- As juveniles age, they are less likely to be victims of a violent crime by a family member.
- About two-thirds of violent crimes with juvenile victims occur in a residence.
- Youth between ages 7 and 17 are about as likely to be victims of suicide as they are to be victims of homicide.
- About half of all violent crimes experienced by male and female students occurred in school or on the way to and from school.
- Many youths are subjected to inappropriate and potentially dangerous experiences on the Internet.
The extensive national television and news media reporting of school shooting incidents presented the false impression that most schools are unsafe and violent places, and that children and youth are more at risk of victimization in schools than elsewhere (Lawrence & Mueller, 2003). In fact, only a small percentage of violent victimization and homicides involving juvenile victims occur in schools. Children and youth are at greater risk of victimization in their own homes and in other parts of their communities. Understanding the true extent and source of juvenile crime and victimization is the first step to responding effectively to the problem.
Homicide tends to receive the most attention in government and news media reports of deaths of children and youth. Deaths by homicide, however, are not the most common causes of deaths of children and young people. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the leading cause of death for children and youth is accidents and unintentional injury; homicide ranks fourth for children ages 5–9, fifth for youth ages 10–14, and second for youth and young adults ages 15–19. More youth aged 10–14 were victims of suicide (244) than homicide (202) in the United States in 2003 (Heron & Smith, 2007).
The rank and frequency of leading causes of death for young people is often studied by researchers, who note, for example, that one reason homicide ranks higher as a cause of death among children and youth is because they are less likely to die of “natural” health-related deaths than older people.
Research reports confirm that suicide is a leading cause of death of young people. Snyder and Sickmund (2006) reported that between 1990 and 2001, suicide was more prevalent than homicide among white juveniles (p. 25). The statistical reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008b) note that while homicide is one of the leading causes of death among children and youth, many deaths can be prevented through better education and supervision to prevent accidental deaths and through more comprehensive provisioning of mental health services for young people. Law enforcement and juvenile justice officials are focusing efforts on reducing the number of homicides and nonfatal victimization of juveniles.
Juvenile Crime Trends – Going Up or Down?
Juvenile offending is often perceived to be extensive and serious, despite the fact that most serious property and violent crimes are committed by offenders over 18 years of age.
Violent crimes committed by juveniles less than 18 years of age have actually declined in the past several years. Despite this, violent crimes are reported more often and get a disproportionate amount of news coverage, so the public often gets a distorted view of the true extent of juvenile crime.
What Does the Research Say?
In what some have termed to be “high-profile” crimes (Chancer, 2010) a growing number of juveniles are involved in school violence, gang-related violence, and assaults with weapons resulting in fatalities and serious injuries.
Another 2013 Vera Institute study notes that of 10,400 cases, 36 percent of status offenses were for skipping school, 22 percent involved liquor violations, 11 percent were related to running away from home, and 10 percent involved curfew violations. These are mistakes that can be handled in ways that do not involve sentences to juvenile facilities.
Intervention programs like those implemented in Ohio and Texas are a more effective and less costly means to rehabilitate or reform juvenile offenders.
National Report, Juvenile Offenders and Victims
What are the leading causes of death for children and young people (according to the National Report, Juvenile Offenders and Victims….also check the CDC)?
What kinds of changes to the different social policies (i.e. welfare, minimum wage, education, drug policy) do you think might help ease some of the family stress and suffering disadvantaged youth endure? (for in spite of their problems and sometimes poor decisions, they are likely to have endured more than their fair share of hardship growing up)
How might we use an “intersectional” framework to call attention to social problems associated with gun violence ( a framework that takes into account interpenetrating social factors like race, social class, and gender)?
What role do patriarchal social structures play in reproducing conditions for victimization?