Criminal Justice Section  

    Criminal Justice Magazine

Criminal Justice Magazine
Spring 2000
Vol. 15, Issue 1


Juvenile violent crime is at its lowest level since 1987 and has fallen 30 percent from 1994 to 1998, according to a November 1999 Bulletin from the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). "Juvenile Arrests 1998" reports significant decreases for every violent crime, including a nearly 50 percent drop in the juvenile murder arrest rate from 1993 to 1998.

The Bulletin presents an analysis of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports data, including arrest rates, which are the numbers of arrests for a specific crime per 100,000 youths ages 10 to 17. In addition to the sharp declines in violent crime committed by juveniles, there was also a 33 percent drop in the arrest rate for weapons law violations between 1993 and 1998.

"Through comprehensive and coordinated efforts at the federal, state, and local level, we are reducing youth violence," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "But we must continue to strengthen our nation's juvenile justice systems and support prevention and early prevention programs that are making a difference for our young people and their communities."

In addition to murder and weapons law violations, "Juvenile Arrests 1998" also showed other drops in juvenile arrest rates: forcible rape was down 25 percent from 1991 to 1998; aggravated assault was down 20 percent from 1994 to 1998; robbery was down 45 percent from 1995 to 1998, and now at its lowest level since 1980. Burglary was down 22 percent from 1989 to 1998 and 50 percent from 1980 to 1998. Larceny-theft was down 19 percent from 1989 to 1998; motor vehicle theft was down 39 percent from 1989 to 1998; arson was down 23 percent from 1994 to 1998, and now at its lowest level since 1990.

"Along with these lower rates we are seeing substantial reductions in the actual number of juvenile arrests for every violent and property crime even when the total number of juveniles in the nation is increasing," said OJJDP Administrator Shay Bilchik. "I believe we have achieved this result because a balanced approach to juvenile crime is effective not only in reducing violence, but also in decreasing other types of crime that can have a devastating impact on communities."

In addition to the juvenile arrest data, the bulletin also presents an analysis of a new FBI study of 1998 data on family violence and the relationship between offenders and victims. Young people were victims in 58 percent of forcible rapes, with 15 percent of victims under age 12. When rapes occurred between family members, juveniles were victims 73 percent of the time and 39 percent of the victims were under age 12.

"Juvenile Arrests 1998" was prepared by Dr. Howard N. Snyder of the National Center for Juvenile Justice, the research division of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, supported by a cooperative agreement with OJJDP.

"Juvenile Arrests 1998," as well as information about other OJJDP publications, programs and conferences, is available through the OJJDP website at and from OJJDP's Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, Box 6000, Rockville, Maryland 20857. The toll-free number is (800) 638-8736. Information about other Office of Justice Programs (OJP), bureaus, and program offices is available at