Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. HC 1.4 Youth Homicides

01/01/2000

After more than a decade of sharp increases, the youth homicide rate decreased between 1993 and 1997. The rate of death from homicide for youth ages 15 through 19 more than doubled between 1970 and 1993, increasing from 8.1 to 20.7 per 100,000 (see Table HC 1.4.A). Virtually all of this increase occurred after 1985. Since 1993, rates have decreased steadily to 11.8 deaths per 100,000 in 1999.

Male Youth Homicide Rates by Race. The trend in the death rate due to homicide for black males largely dominates the rate of youth homicides for ages 15 through 19. Since 1990, the rate of death due to homicide for black males ages 15 through 19 has been about eight to nine times higher than the rate for their white peers. The rate for this age group of black males actually declined nearly 30 percent from 1970 to 1985, but it increased dramatically from 46.7 per 100,000 in 1985 to 140.7 per 100,000 in 1993. Since 1993, this rate has decreased by over 50 percent, falling to 71 deaths per 100,000 by 1998 (see Table HC 1.4.A).

While the homicide rate for white males of the same age group (15 through 19) is substantially less than that of black males, similar fluctuations in this rate can be seen over time, with the largest increases occurring between 1985 and the early 1990s and decreases in recent years. Overall, this rate has almost doubled, going from 5.2 deaths per 100,000 in 1970 to 10.2 deaths per 100,000 in 1998.

 Female Youth Homicide Rates by Race. Homicide rates for females ages 15 through 19 are considerably lower than among similarly aged males within the same race groups (rates for black females have actually been higher than rates for white males). For example, the rate for black females was 10.6 per 100,000 in 1997, 87 percent lower than the rate for black males. The gender disparity in homicide rates is also large for whites, although it is not as great as that between black males and females. In 1998, the homicide rate for white females ages 15 through 19 was 2.4 deaths per 100,000, just over a quarter of that for white males. As is the case for males, the youth homicide rate for black females is higher than the rate for white females—nearly four times higher in 1998 (see Table HC 1.4.A).

Homicide Rates for Younger Youth. The homicide rate for youth ages 10 through 14 was 1.5 per 100,000 in 1998—substantially lower than the rate for older youth (see Figure HC 1.4.B). The disparity between males and females is not as pronounced in this age group as the difference for older youth ages 15 through 19. However, the homicide rates for both white and black males ages 10 through 14 have been approximately twice those of females in recent years.

Homicides Involving Firearms. Firearms have been involved in the majority of youth homicides since 1980 (see Figure HC 1.4.C). Deaths to youth ages 15 through 19 involving firearms accounted for 66 percent of the total deaths due to homicide in 1980 (7.0 firearm deaths per 100,000 out of a total of 10.6 deaths per 100,000 due to homicide). The percentage of firearm-related homicides increased to 85 percent by 1997 for this same age group.

Homicides due to firearms are more likely among black youth than among white youth and most particularly among black males ages 15 through 19 (see Table HC 1.4.B). In 1997, 91 percent of homicides among older male black youth (ages 15 through 19) involved a firearm, compared with 84 percent among older white male youth. The rate of death due to firearms among black males ages 15 through 19 has decreased since 1993, serving as one explanation for the decline in the overall homicide rate among this group. Homicides among female youth involve a firearm less often, although firearms are still the means of the majority of female homicides.

Table HC 1.4.A Youth homicidesa (rate per 100,000) in the United States, by age, gender, and race: Selected years, 1970-1998

  1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
All youth
Ages 10-14 1.2 1.2 1.4 1.5 2.1 2.2 2.4 2.5 2.2 2.1 1.8 1.5 1.5
Ages 15-19 8.1 9.6 10.6 8.6 17.0 19.6 19.3 20.7 20.3 18.2 15.7 13.7 11.8
White males
Ages 10-14 0.6 1.0 1.1 1.4 1.7 1.8 2.0 1.9 1.8 2.0 1.5 1.4 1.3
Ages 15-19 5.2 8.1 10.9 7.2 12.5 14.4 15.2 15.2 15.4 14.7 12.2 11.1 10.2
White females
Ages 10-14 0.6 0.8 1.1 0.9 0.9 0.9 1.0 1.2 0.9 1.0 0.9 0.6 1.0
Ages 15-19 2.1 3.2 3.9 2.7 3.6 3.6 3.6 3.6 3.4 3.9 2.9 2.9 2.4
Black males
Ages 10-14 6.8 4.1 3.9 4.2 8.1 9.1 9.6 10.5 9.1 8.2 6.0 5.6 4.4
Ages 15-19 65.2 51.4 48.8 46.7 115.7 134.6 128.5 140.7 135.8 110.5 100.9 85.3 71.0
Black females
Ages 10-14 2.3 2.3 2.4 1.7 4.8 3.8 5.1 5.2 4.6 3.0 3.1 2.3 2.6
Ages 15-19 10.6 15.3 11.0 10.4 15.6 15.6 14.2 18.4 15.1 16.4 12.9 10.6 9.8

 a Homicide includes death by legal intervention.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Table 291, p491-496, Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics.


Figure HC 1.4.A Youth homicidesa for males ages 15 through 19 (rate per 100,000) in the United States, by race: Selected years, 1970-1998

Figure HC 1.4.A Youth homicidesa for males ages 15 through 19 (rate per 100,000) in the United States, by race: Selected years, 1970-1998

a Homicide includes death by legal intervention.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Table 291, p473-478, Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics.


Figure HC 1.4.B Youth homicidesa (rate per 100,000) in the United States, by age: Selected years, 1970-1998

Figure HC 1.4.B Youth homicidesa (rate per 100,000) in the United States, by age: Selected years, 1970-1998

a Homicide includes death by legal intervention.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Table 291, p473-478, Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics.


Table HC 1.4.B Youth homicides due to firearmsa (rate per 100,000) in the United States, by age, gender, and race: Selected years, 1980-1998

  1980 1985 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
All youth
Ages 10-14 0.8 0.8 1.5 1.6 1.9 1.9 1.7 1.6 1.3 1.0 1.0
Ages 15-19 7.0 5.7 13.8 16.4 16.7 17.8 17.7 15.4 13.2 10.9 9.7
White males
Ages 10-14 0.7 0.9 1.3 1.4 1.6 1.5 1.5 1.6 1.2 1.1 1.0
Ages 15-19 7.2 4.9 9.4 11.7 12.9 12.6 12.9 12.3 10.0 8.3 8.0
White females
Ages 10-14 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.3 0.5
Ages 15-19 1.7 1.2 2.0 2.1 2.3 2.2 2.4 2.2 1.7 1.5 1.3
Black males
Ages 10-14 3.2 3.0 6.9 8.2 8.4 9.8 7.7 7.4 5.2 4.1 3.1
Ages 15-19 38.4 36.6 104.4 122.6 118.8 130.1 126.6 101.7 91.7 75.2 64.5
Black females
Ages 10-14 1.0 0.6 3.2 2.7 3.4 3.3 3.3 2.0 1.8 1.5 1.6
Ages 15-19 6.2 5.0 10.4 11.2 10.5 14.3 11.1 12.3 9.9 7.2 6.7

 a Includes assault by handguns and all other and unspecified firearms.

Sources: National Center for Health Statistics, Table 291, p491-496, Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics. Murphy, 1999.


Figure HC 1.4.C Percentage of youth homicidesa due to firearmsb in the United States, for youth ages 15 through 19: Selected years, 1980-1998

Figure HC 1.4.C Percentage of youth homicidesa due to firearmsb in the United States, for youth ages 15 through 19: Selected years, 1980-1998

a Homicide includes death by legal intervention

b Includes assault by handguns and all other and unspecified firearms.

Sources: National Center for Health Statistics, Table 291, p491-496, Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics; Murphy, 1999.

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