Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. HC 1.2.b Youth homicides

04/01/1997

The rate of death from homicide for teens ages 15 through 19 more than doubled between 1970 and 1994, increasing from 8.1 per 100 thousand in 1970 to 20.3 per 100 thousand in 1994 (see Table HC 1.2.B.1). Virtually all of this increase has taken place since 1985 (see Figure HC 1.2.B.1).

Male Youth Homicide Rates by Race. As large as the overall increase has been, this trend has been most alarming for males ages 15 to 19. The rate of death from homicide for this age group of black males has increased dramatically from 46.7 per 100 thousand in 1985 to 135.8 per 100 thousand in 1994, a rate nearly nine times that for white males of the same age (see Figure HC 1.2.B.2). The homicide rate for black males aged 15 to 19 actually declined nearly 30 percent from 1970 to 1985, but rose again after 1985. Even with slight declines in the homicide rate in 1992 and 1994, the rate for young black males has nearly tripled since 1985. While the homicide rate for white males of the same age group (15 through 19) is substantially less than that of black males, this rate has also doubled since 1985 (from 7.2 to 15.4 per 100 thousand), and has tripled since 1970.

Female Youth Homicide Rates by Race. Homicide rates for females ages 15 through 19 of both races are considerably lower than among males in this age group. For example, the rate for black females was 15.1 per 100 thousand in 1994, approximately one-ninth 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 1994, the homicide rate for white females ages 15 through 19 was 3.4 deaths per 100 thousand, nearly 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 four and one half times higher in 1994.

Homicide Rates for Younger Youth. The homicide rate for youth ages 10 through 14 was 2.2 per 100 thousand in 1994 substantially lower than the rate for older youth. Nevertheless, this rate has nearly doubled between 1970 and 1994. For whites, there is little difference in the homicide rates of males and females in this younger age group. For blacks, however, there is a disparity between males and females, although it is not as pronounced as the difference for older black males and females. In 1994, the homicide rate of 9.1 for young black males was virtually twice that of females in the same age group, with a rate of 4.6 per 100 thousand.

Homicides Involving Firearms. In examining the rate of homicides due to firearms in proportion to total homicides, it is evident that firearms have been involved in the majority of youth homicides since 1980 (see Figure HC 1.2.B.3). 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 thousand out of a total of 10.6 deaths per 100 thousand due to homicide). The percentage of firearm-related homicides increased to 87 percent by 1994. 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 1.2.B.2). In 1994, 93 percent of homicides among older male black youth (ages 15 through 19) involved a firearm, compared to 84 percent among white male youth. Homicides among female youth involve a firearm less often, although firearms are still the means of the majority of female homicides.
 

Figure HC 1.2.B.1 
Youth Homicides: 1970-1994 (rate per 100,000) 

HC1_2B1.GIF

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, unpublished work tables prepared by the Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics, 1995 and 1996.
 
 

Figure HC 1.2.B.2 
Male Youth Homicides Ages 15-19, by Race: 1970-1994 (rate per 100,000) 

HC1_2B2.GIF

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, unpublished work tables prepared by the Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics, 1995 and 1996.
 
 

Figure HC 1.2.B.3 
Percentage of Homicides to Youth Ages 15-19 Due to Firearmsa: 1980-1994 

\HC1_2B3.GIF

Note: aIncludes assault by handguns and all other and unspecified firearms.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, unpublished work tables prepared by the Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics, 1996.
 
 

Table HC 1.2.B.1
Youth Homicidesa: Selected Years, 1970-1994 (rate per 100,000)

 
   
1970
1975
1980
1985
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
All Youth
  Ages 10-14
1.2
1.2
1.4
1.5
2.1
2.2
2.4
2.5
2.2
  Ages 15-19
8.1
9.6
10.6
8.6
17
19.6
19.3
20.7
20.3
White males
  Ages 10-14
0.6
1
1.1
1.4
1.7
1.8
2
1.9
1.8
  Ages 15-19
5.2
8.1
10.9
7.2
12.5
14.4
15.2
15.2
15.4
White females
  Ages 10-14
0.6
0.8
1.1
0.9
0.9
0.9
1
1.2
0.9
  Ages 15-19
2.1
3.2
3.9
2.7
3.6
3.6
3.6
3.6
3.4
Black males
  Ages 10-14
6.8
4.1
3.9
4.2
8.1
9.1
9.6
10.5
9.1
  Ages 15-19
65.2
51.4
48.8
46.7
115.7
134.6
128.5
140.7
135.8
Black females
  Ages 10-14
2.3
2.3
2.4
1.7
4.8
3.8
5.1
5.2
4.6
  Ages 15-19
10.6
15.3
11
10.4
15.6
15.6
14.2
18.4
15.1
 
Note: aHomicide includes death by legal intervention 

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, unpublished work tables prepared by the Mortality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics, 1995 and 1996.

 
 

Table HC 1.2.B.2
Youth Homicides Due to Firearmsa: Selected Years, 1980-1994
(rate per 100,000)

 
   
1980
1985
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
All Youth
  Ages 10-14
0.8
0.8
1.5
1.6
1.9
1.9
1.7
  Ages 15-19
7
5.7
13.8
16.4
16.7
17.8
17.7
White Males
  Ages 10-14
0.7
0.8
1.1
1.2
1.5
1.3
1.3
  Ages 15-19
7.2
4.9
9.4
11.6
12.9
12.5
13
White Females
  Ages 10-14
0.4
0.4
0.4
0.4
0.6
0.6
0.4
  Ages 15-19
1.7
1.1
1.7
1.9
2.1
2
2.2
Black Males
  Ages 10-14
3.2
2.8
6.1
7.6
7.7
9.2
7.1
  Ages 15-19
38.4
36.7
104.4
122.5
118.7
130.1
126.6
Black Females
  Ages 10-14
1
*
2.9
2.5
3.2
3.3
3
  Ages 15-19
6.3
4.7
9.6
10.3
9.8
13.4
9.9
 
Note: Calculations by Child Trends, Inc., to combine rates of assault by handguns and rates of assault by all other and unspecified firearms may affect overall rates due to previous rounding. 
aIncludes assault by handguns and all other and unspecified firearms. 
* = Not calculated because of unreliability due to infrequency of the event. 

Source: National Center for Health Statistics. Unpublished work tables prepared by the Morality Statistics Branch, Division of Vital Statistics, 1996.

 

 

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