The Juvenile Crime Statistics

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Overall decrease in juvenile arrests

Puzzanchera (2009) indicates that juvenile arrests in 2008 decreased by 3% compared to arrests in 2007. Moreover, there was a 2% decrease in juvenile arrests related to violent crimes over the same period. It is pertinent to note that in 2005 and 2006, arrests for juvenile violent crimes were on the rise, but there has been a decreasing trend since 2007. There was a decline in juvenile arrests related to aggravated assaults for the period between 1999 and 2008. The decrease was more pronounced in males (22%) than in females (17%). There was a 6% decrease in juvenile arrests for males; over the same period, female juvenile arrests increased by 12%. For all persons below the age of 40 years, there was a significant decrease in arrest rates for violent crimes in 2008 compared to 1994 statistics.

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Increase in drug offenses and simple assaults

It is evident that juvenile arrests for simple assaults increased for both female and male offenders. Statistics indicate that, for the period between 1980 and 2008, there was an increase in the arrest rate for males involved in simple assault by two times. For the same period, arrest rates for female juveniles involved in simple assault increased more than three times. Drug abuse violations varied between male and female juvenile offenders. However, arrests for both genders increased between 1980 and 2008. While there was a decrease in juvenile male arrests for drug abuse violations, a significant increase in juvenile female arrests for drug abuse violations was recorded between 1998 and 2008. Nevertheless, there was a slight decline between 2007 and 2008 (Puzzanchera, 2009). The decrease was smaller than for juvenile male offenders given drug use violation arrests dropped by 2% among juvenile females, while it dropped by 8% for juvenile male offenders.

Implications for juvenile females and members of ethnic and racial minorities

Ethnic and racial minorities are an important category when examining juvenile arrests. From the 2008 juvenile arrest statistics, clear differences in juvenile arrests were noted along racial and ethnic lines. For instance, the proportion of juvenile arrests involving blacks was significantly high at 52%, despite the black youth constituting a mere 16% of the juvenile population of 10-17 years as of 2008. While the white juvenile population is the highest in the U.S. at 78%, only 47% juvenile arrests involved the whites. There was an overrepresentation of black youth for almost all juvenile arrests in 2008. In the Violent Crime Index arrest rates in 2008, black juveniles exceeded white, American Indian and Asian juveniles by 5, 6 and 13 times respectively. Black juveniles were also proportionately higher for the Property Crime Index arrests compared to the other ethnic groups. A significant decrease of at least 42% in the Property Crime Index arrest rates was noted among all the racial groups for the period between 1994 and 2008. There was a notable decrease (13%) in the rate of arrests for juvenile drug use among blacks between 2007 and 2008.

Given the increase in juvenile female arrests, it is imperative to give more attention to the female child in order to curb this increase (Champion, 2010). Past complacency in addressing delinquency in the female child has led to the juvenile females being ignored; hence their progression from just minor assault offenders to more serious offenders, such as aggravated assault offenders. If more attention will be given in prevention of female juvenile delinquency, female juvenile arrests will reduce, just as observed among male juveniles.

The observed decrease in juvenile arrests for black youth among other minority groups is a clear indicator that there are efforts to curb juvenile delinquency among these groups. However, there is still more to be done since juvenile delinquency among black youth is proportionately higher compared to other racial groups. There is a need to intervene among the minority groups to curb juvenile delinquency if juvenile arrests among black youth are expected to go down.

Increase in arrests of juvenile females and the decrease in arrests of male juvenile offenders for violent crimes

Gender differences were noted for juvenile arrests in 2008. For instance, the 2008 juvenile arrests statistics indicate that of all the juvenile arrests that were made, 30% of these were females. In fact, it was noted that for the period between 1999 and 2008, arrests for crimes such as simple assault and drug use rose for females while there was a decrease in male arrests. While there was a decrease for most juvenile arrests between 1999 and 2008, the highest decreases were for juvenile male arrests than for juvenile females. For instance, aggravated assault arrests decreased by 17% among juvenile females, while it decreased by 22% in males. While female juvenile arrests for burglary decreased by 3%, there was a 16% decrease in male juvenile arrests for burglary. Between 1999 and 2008, there was an increase in female juvenile arrests for vandalism by 3%, while male juvenile arrests for the same crime decreased by 9%. There was a 4% increase in larceny-theft female juvenile arrests between 1999 and 2008, compared to a 29% decrease in male juvenile arrests for the same period.

Tracking juvenile arrests as a method of measuring the amount of and trends in juvenile crime

Puzzanchera (2009) is keen to point out that juvenile arrest statistics should be interpreted cautiously when determining the amount of, and trends in juvenile crime. For instance, it is imperative to understand that arrest statistics do not imply the number of crimes committed. This is because a single arrest may be made, yet a number of crimes may have been committed by the arrested criminal or criminals. Moreover, several individuals may be arrested for a single crime. It, therefore, means that it would be wrong to rely on the number of arrests to understand the number of crimes committed by juveniles. Instead, Puzzanchera (2009) advises that the number of arrests should be used to estimate the flow of juvenile delinquencies in the justice system. Given that classification of arrests is based on the most serious crime committed, it means that some crimes that are committed together with less serious crimes can go unaccounted for. In that case, it would be wrong to rely on juvenile arrest statistics to obtain the volume of arrests for a given crime.

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References

Champion, D. J. (2010). The juvenile justice system: Delinquency, processing, and the law. (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Puzzanchera, C. (2009). Juvenile Arrests 2008. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Web.

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