Juvenile Crime Stats

Juvenile Crime Stats

Here is some information on juvenile criminal activity dealing with troubled teens and delinquents.  This page also lists some interesting statistical data on juvenile offenders that can be quite shocking.  Take a look at our other resources regarding other criminal justice topics as you continue your research and studies.

Troubled Teens and Juvenile Delinquents


Troubled teens and juvenile delinquents – or more specifically, young persons who fall  under the age of 18 years are those who display disturbingly abnormal or illegal behavior within society. Over recent decades, the at-risk youth has become a growing concern within the United States as crime rates of juveniles continue to remain high in number. The numbers and trends of U.S. juvenile offenders has triggered a corresponding call for both proactive measures in the form of at-risk youth intervention to prevent juveniles from becoming offenders, as well reactive measures in the juvenile justice system to deal with those juveniles who have already offended. For the most part, these efforts seem effective, as statistical data have reported a slow yet steady decline in reported juvenile offenses. However, in order to maintain and improve those statistics, more research and resources must be available.

The development of juvenile offenders

Why are there so many juvenile offenders in the United States? The general consensus appears to be that, rather than one specific reason, numerous factors – both internal and external – exist, so when combined, result in a perfect storm.  The dynamics of a given family are a critical factor; for example, a family’s internal workings and interpersonal relationships are formatively influential for children. Statistics have broadly shown that children with distant and/or fractured relationships with one or both parents are more likely to show disruptive behavior. Children with little to no supervision from a parental figure are also statistically more likely to show signs of rebellion.

A juvenile’s external influences in the form of socialization – extended family, school, friends, and extracurricular activities also affect growth, development, and tendency (or lack thereof) towards disturbingly abnormal or criminal behavior. Those adolescents with poor family environments may seek refuge in others. When children and teens seek a sense of belonging and acceptance in others, they may become more vulnerable for manipulation. There has also been a long-standing correlation between family life and school with juvenile offenders, as poor performance in school often leads to delinquent behavior. Those students with little to no family support are most likely to suffer bad grades and interest in learning. Consequently, the lack of healthy relationships and success in the educational system often leads adolescents to dangerous behavior as an outlet.

In these technology-driven times, communication and information is both rampant and immediate. Be it audio, video, or text, these sources of information are instantaneously available. With strong negative content readily available – such as violence, illegal forms of sex, and drugs – today’s at-risk youth have exposure to a plethora of influences.  Also noteworthy is the fact that minority juveniles are also disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system. For example, in 2008, the arrest rate for robbery was 10 times greater for African American youth than for Caucasian youth.

Statistical data on juvenile offenders

National arrest statistics may provide a wealth of information regarding trends and rates of juvenile crime, but it should be noted that many incidents will go unreported. It is also important to note that this national statistical reporting lags in terms of time; for example, as of early 2011, only juvenile crime and arrest data as recently as 2008 is available. However, the 2008 data reports a 3% decline in juvenile arrests as well as a 2% drop in reported juvenile violent crimes between 2007 and 2008, along with a 5% reduction in reported juvenile violent crimes since 2006. These data points offer an encouraging trend that juvenile crime is on a gradual decline. Below is a breakdown of the 2008 juvenile crimes statistical data, as a percentage of all crimes within a given category:

  • 16% of all violent crime arrests, 12% of all cleared;
  • 26% of all property crime arrests, 18% of all cleared;
  • 11% (1,740) of all murder victims were juveniles, with more than a third (38%) under the age of 5 years;
  • A juvenile murder arrest rate of 3.8 arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10 through 17 – a 17% increase than the 2004 low of 3.3, but 74% less than the 1993 peak of 14.4;
  • Juvenile arrests for aggravated assault decreased more for males than for females (22% vs. 17%) between the years 1999 and 2008 – a time period during which juvenile male arrests for simple assault dropped 6% and female arrests rose12%;
  • African American youth were involved in 52% of juvenile Violent Crime Index arrests and 33% of juvenile Property Crime Index arrests, yet made up only 16% of the youth population aged 10–17 years; and arrest rates for those arrests falling under the Violent Crime Index in 2008 were significantly lower than the rates in the 1994 peak year for every age group under 40.

(Source: Charles Puzzanchera, Juvenile Arrests 2008, OJJDP and FBI URC).

Regardless of the data listed above, it is worth noting that, in 2008, U.S. law enforcement agencies across the country arrested an estimated 2.11 million individuals under the age of 18 years.  Overall, the current statistical data shows an indication that there is still much work left to do with regards to juvenile delinquents and troubled teens. Furthermore, this statistical data has resulted in the ongoing approaches of both proactive, preventative measures in the form of at-risk youth intervention and ongoing reform. These measures may just be working, given the overall steady decline.

Online References and Resources:

  • American Bar Association’s Juvenile Justice Committee.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), a national statistical compilation of crimes, produced from data provided by nearly 17,000 U.S. law enforcement agencies across the nation.
  • Charles Puzzanchera, Juvenile Arrests 2008, Juvenile Justice Bulletin, published by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), which is housed under the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs.
  • National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ), the oldest juvenile justice research organization in the United States with a mission to ensure effective justice for children and families. The NCJJ forms the research division of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ).
  • National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), an annual survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, of approximately 76,000 households on the frequency of crime victimization, and its characteristics and consequences within the United States.
  • National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, used by U.S. law enforcement agencies to collect and report crime data.
  • National Institute of Justice, an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice dedicated to research, development and evaluation.
  • National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 (NYLSY97), an ongoing survey administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, that consists of nationally representative sample of youths (approximately 9,000) youths who were between the ages of 12 to 16 years as of December 31, 1996.
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), housed under the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, with a mission to provide: “national leadership, coordination, and resources to prevent and respond to juvenile delinquency and victimization. OJJDP supports states and communities in their efforts to develop and implement effective and coordinated prevention and intervention programs and to improve the juvenile justice system so that it protects public safety, holds offenders accountable, and provides treatment and rehabilitative services tailored to the needs of juveniles and their families.”
  • SparkAction, an online child and youth field-related journalism and advocacy organization.