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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Encouraging Data on Youth, Crime, and Social Dysfunction

David Finkelhor writes at The Washington Post:
You’ve probably heard that crime is down. But most of the remarkable facts about crime and delinquency among young people have not been trumpeted enough in a country just 20 years removed from fears that it was facing a generation of young “super-predators.” In fact, arrests for serious violent offenses by juveniles have dropped about 60 percent from 1994 to 2011. Juvenile arrests have receded faster in the past 10 years than adult arrests. Property crime by youth also has sunk to its lowest point in 30 years.
Of course, we read, quite correctly, that rates of rape on college campuses and in the military are high, and that victims are treated poorly. But rape and other sex crimes among youth have been decreasing. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the number of sexual assaults against 12- to 17-year-olds has declined by more than half since the mid-1990s. The number of youth arrests for sex offenses also has dropped. It may be hard to believe, but three nationwide and statewide victim surveys havecorroborated these decreases.
School shootings, too, have scarred the nation’s psyche and left a sense that schools are dangerous. But school safety has been improving dramatically. Violent victimization of teenagers at school has dropped 60 percent from 1992 to 2012, according to Justice Department data. School homicides, which rarely number more than a couple of dozen per year, have been lower in the 2000s than they were in the 1990s.
We hear about the bullying epidemic in painful accounts of youth taking their own lives after dealing with peer harassment. But peer victimization, harassment and bullying — despite their ubiquity — have been abating in almost all of the surveys. Suicide, too, is less common. Among 10- to 24- year-olds, the rate declined from 9.24 to 7.21 suicides per 100,000 people from 1991 to 2009.
He also notes encouraging data on