Teen crime rate is lowest in decades

Published: March 8, 2006 | 3699th good news item since 2003

Americans are experiencing the sharpest decline in teen crime in modern history.

Schools are as safe as they were in the 1960s, according to Justice Department figures. Juvenile homicide arrests are down from 3,800 annually to fewer than 1,000, and only a handful of those homicides occur in schools. Arrest rates in robberies, rapes and aggravated assaults are off a third since 1980 for suspects ages 10-18, according to the Justice Department’s 2006 National Report on Juvenile Offenders and Victims, due out this month.

“Kids now are less violent than you were,” James Rieland, director of juvenile-court services in Allegheny County, Pa., tells new prosecutors.

Criminologists say the question is what has gone right in the long period of relative peace that dawned in the mid-’90s. They hope to prolong the era of amity.

Factors that could be behind the drop in teen crime, according to researchers and criminologists:

Tighter school security.

Good economic times that gave teens more options than crime.

Population shifts in inner cities and suburbs.

Effective strategies for dealing with troubled teens, such as mentoring programs and structured foster-care homes.

Imprisoning adult criminals who might have had young helpers.

Published in Justice, Kids & Teens
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