Youth Homicide On The Decline
July 12, 2013

Youth Homicide Rate Hits 30-Year Low

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) found that the youth homicide rate hit a 30-year low in 2010. Still one of the top three causes of death for persons 10 to 24 years old, homicide accounted for 4,800 deaths in this age group in 2010.

"Our youth represent our future and one homicide is one too many," said CDC director Linda C. Degutis. "Comprehensive approaches that include evidence-based prevention strategies are essential to eliminate homicide as a leading cause of death of young people."

According to the report, the youth homicide rate dramatically rose by 83 percent from 1985 to 1993. However, the CDC reported encouraging signs for the overall youth homicide rate starting in 1994. Over the next five years, the  rate dropped by 41 percent, to 8.9 per 100,000 individuals in 1999. From 2000 to 2010, their nationwide homicide rate decreased by about 1 percent a year, hitting the 30-year low in 2010.

Over the 30 years covered by the study, almost 80 percent of youth homicides were caused by some type of firearm, according to CDC officials. While firearm-related homicides are declining, they are doing so at a slower pace than stabbings or other types of homicides.

"Even though we have seen this promising decline, youth homicide is still among the top three leading causes of death for our young people. This age group is disproportionately affected by it - about 13 young people die every day from homicide," the report's lead author, Corinne Ferdon, a behavioral scientist with the CDC, told USA Today.

While the youth homicide rate was at its lowest in 30 years in 2010, males and non-Hispanic blacks were still much more likely to be victims of homicide compared to females, whites and Hispanics. Examining the numbers demographically, the youth homicide rate was 12.7 per 100,000 for males, 13.2 for 20- to 24-year-old adults, and 28.8 for non-Hispanic black youth.

Ferdon emphasized the positive aspects of the report, noting that the "hard work" being done in communities, schools and families is producing real results in violence prevention.

"I see this as very positive news that people need to pay attention to - rather than only pay attention to the bad headline news," said Daniel Webster, deputy director for research for the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence.

He added that the declining homicide rates are even more remarkable in the context of the turbulent social and economic times of the last decade, which included the biggest recession since the Great Depression.

"You have a lot of factors at play that you might expect would make violence increase, but it didn't," Webster said. "This is encouraging that it has continued to decline despite a set of conditions that might have caused it to increase."

"For us, the key takeaway is that the rate is still way too high," Caroline Fichtenberg, director of research at the non-profit Children's Defense Fund, said in reaction to the report. "What jumps out is that the vast majority of these deaths are gun deaths. A child or teen is shot every 30 minutes, and as a result of this there's a death every three hours and 15 minutes."