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Juvenile Arrests 2006 - Report, DOJ Juvenile Justice Bulletin, 2008

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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

November 2008

J. Robert Flores, Administrator

Office of Justice Programs

Innovation • Partnerships • Safer Neighborhoods	

Juvenile Arrests 2006
Howard N. Snyder
In 2006, law enforcement agencies in the
United States made an estimated 2.2 mil­
lion arrests of persons under age 18.* Ju­
veniles accounted for 17% of all violent
crime arrests and 26% of all property
crime arrests in 2006. The substantial
growth in juvenile violent crime arrests
that began in the late 1980s and peaked in
1994 was followed by 10 consecutive
years of decline. Between 1994 and 2004,
the juvenile arrest rate for Violent Crime
Index offenses fell 49%, reaching its lowest
level since at least 1980. However, this
long-term downward trend was broken in
2005 with a 2% annual increase in Violent
Crime Index arrests followed by a 4% in­
crease in 2006. More specifically, 2005 and
2006 saw increases in juvenile arrests for
murder and robbery but continued de­
clines in arrests for forcible rape and ag­
gravated assault.
These findings are derived from data that
local law enforcement agencies across the
country report annually to the FBI’s Uni­
form Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.
Based on these data, the FBI prepares its
annual Crime in the United States report,
which summarizes crimes known to the
police and arrests made during the report­
ing calendar year. This information is used
to characterize the extent and nature of
juvenile crime that comes to the attention
of the justice system. Other recent find­
ings from the UCR Program include the
following:

◆	 In 2006, 10% (or 1,780) of all murder
victims were under age 18. Although
33% of all juvenile murder victims were
under age 5, this proportion varied
widely across demographic groups.
◆	 After about a decade of substantial
decline, the number of juveniles mur­
dered with firearms increased in 2004,
2005, and 2006, while murders by other
means continued to decline.
◆	 In 1994, 1 of 6 alleged murder offenders
known to law enforcement was under
age 18. In 2006, this ratio was 1 in 11.
◆	 Juveniles were involved in 13% of all
violent crimes cleared in 2006—
specifically, 6% of murders, 12% of
forcible rapes, 17% of robberies, and
12% of aggravated assaults.
◆	 The growth in the juvenile murder
arrest rate from 2004 to 2006 returned
it to near its 2002 level, but even with
this increase the rate in 2006 was still
73% below its 1993 peak.
◆	 Between 1997 and 2006, juvenile arrests
for aggravated assault decreased more
for males than for females (24% vs.
10%). During this period, while juvenile
male arrests for simple assault declined
4%, female arrests grew 19%.
◆	 In 2006, although the juvenile popula­
tion was only 17% black, black juve­
niles were involved in 51% of juvenile
Violent Crime Index arrests and 31% of
juvenile Property Crime Index arrests.

* Throughout this Bulletin, persons under age 18 are
referred to as juveniles. See Notes on page 12.

Access OJJDP publications online at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ojjdp

www.ojp.usdoj.gov

A Message From OJJDP
Juvenile Arrests 2006 summarizes
juvenile data cited in the FBI report
Crime in the United States 2006.
Juvenile arrests for violent crimes
increased modestly in 2005 and
2006. However, as the number of
such arrests in 2004 was smaller than
in any year since 1987, the number of
juvenile arrests for violent crimes for
2006 was relatively low. Juvenile
arrests for property crimes continued
to decline and in 2006 were at their
lowest level since at least 1980 (the
first year of available data for this
report).
The proportion of female offenders
entering the juvenile justice system
has grown. Although juvenile arrests
for violent crimes declined 22% for
males between 1997 and 2006, they
decreased only 12% for females in
the same period.
The Violent Crime Index rate for black
juveniles in 2006 was 5 times the rate
for white and American Indian juveniles and 12 times the rate for Asian
juveniles. Although this represents an
increase in the black/white juvenile
violent arrest rate disparity of 4-to-1 in
1999, it is less than that of the 1980s,
when it was between 6- and 7-to-1.
As evidenced by the preceding examples, this Bulletin provides baseline
information that can be used in monitoring America's progress in addressing juvenile crime.

What do arrest statistics
count?

crimes in groups. This is the primary rea­
son why one should not use arrest statis­
tics to indicate the relative proportion of
crime that juveniles and adults commit.
Arrest statistics are most appropriately a
measure of flow into the criminal and ju­
venile justice systems.

To interpret the material in this Bulletin
properly, the reader must have a clear
understanding of what these statistics
count. Arrest statistics report the number
of arrests that law enforcement agencies
made in a particular year—not the num­
ber of individuals arrested nor the num­
ber of crimes committed. The number of
arrests is not equivalent to the number of
people arrested because an unknown
number of individuals are arrested more
than once in the year. Nor do arrest
statistics represent counts of crimes that
arrested individuals commit because a
series of crimes that one individual com­
mits may culminate in a single arrest or a
single crime may result in the arrest of
more than one person. This latter situa­
tion, where many arrests result from one
crime, is relatively common in juvenile
law-violating behavior because juveniles
are more likely than adults to commit

Arrest statistics also have limitations in
measuring the volume of arrests for a
particular offense. Under the UCR Pro­
gram, the FBI requires law enforcement
agencies to classify an arrest by the
most serious offense charged in that
arrest. For example, the arrest of a youth
charged with aggravated assault and
possession of a controlled substance
would be reported to the FBI as an arrest
for aggravated assault. Therefore, when
arrest statistics show that law enforce­
ment agencies made an estimated
196,700 arrests of young people for drug
abuse violations in 2006, it means that a
drug abuse violation was the most seri­
ous charge in these 196,700 arrests. An

The juvenile proportion of arrests exceeded the juvenile proportion of
crimes cleared by arrest or exceptional means in each offense category,
reflecting that juveniles are more likely to commit crimes in groups and
are more likely to be arrested than are adults
13%

Violent Crime Index

17%
19%

Property Crime Index
Murder
Forcible rape
Robbery

26%
6%
10%
12%
15%
17%
28%
12%
14%

Aggravated assault

18%

Burglary

28%
20%

Larceny-theft

26%
16%

Motor vehicle theft

25%
40%

Arson
0%

49%

10%

20%
30%
40%
Percent involving juveniles

Clearance

50%

60%

Arrest

Data source: Crime in the United States 2006 (Washington, DC: Federal Bureau of Investigation,
2007), tables 28 and 38.

2

unknown number of additional arrests in
2006 included a drug charge as a lesser
offense.

What do clearance
statistics count?
Clearance statistics measure the propor­
tion of reported crimes that were re­
solved by an arrest or other, exceptional
means (e.g., death of the offender, un­
willingness of the victim to cooperate).
A single arrest may result in many clear­
ances. For example, 1 arrest could clear
40 burglaries if the person was charged
with committing all 40 of these crimes.
Or multiple arrests may result in a single
clearance if a group of offenders commit­
ted the crime. For those interested in ju­
venile justice issues, the FBI also reports
on the proportion of clearances that
involved offenders under age 18. This
statistic is a better indicator of the pro­
portion of crime that this age group com­
mits than is the proportion of arrests,
although there are some concerns that
even the clearance statistic overesti­
mates the proportion of crimes commit­
ted by juveniles.
For example, the FBI reports that per­
sons under age 18 accounted for 28%
of all robbery arrests but only 17% of all
robberies that were cleared in 2006. If it
can be assumed that offender character­
istics of cleared robberies are similar to
those of robberies that were not cleared,
then it would be appropriate to conclude
that persons under age 18 were respon­
sible for 17% of all robberies in 2006.
However, the offender characteristics of
cleared and noncleared robberies may
differ for a number of reasons. For exam­
ple, research has shown that juvenile
robbers are more easily apprehended
than adult robbers; consequently, the
juvenile proportion of cleared robberies
probably overestimates juveniles’ respon­
sibility for all robberies. To add to the diffi­
culty in interpreting clearance statistics,
the FBI’s reporting guidelines require the
clearance to be tied to the oldest offend­
er in the group if more than one person
is involved in the crime.
In summary, although the interpretation
of reported clearance proportions is not
straightforward, these data are the clos­
est measure generally available of the
proportion of crime known to law en­
forcement that is attributed to persons
under age 18.

The number of juveniles
murdered increased in
2004, 2005, and 2006
Each Crime in the United States report
presents estimates of the number of
crimes reported to law enforcement agen­
cies. A large number of crimes are never
reported to law enforcement. Murder,
however, is one crime that is nearly al­
ways reported.
An estimated 17,030 murders were report­
ed to law enforcement agencies in 2006,
or 5.7 murders for every 100,000 U.S. resi­
dents. The murder rate in the U.S. was es­
sentially constant between 1999 (the year
with the fewest murders in the last three
decades) and 2006. Prior to 1999, the last
year in which the U.S. murder rate was
under 6.0 was 1966.
Of all murder victims in 2006, 90% (or
15,250 victims) were 18 years of age or
older. The other 1,780 murder victims
were under age 18 (i.e., juveniles). The
number of juveniles murdered in 2006 was
10% above the average number of juve­
niles murdered in the prior 5-year period,
and 38% below the peak year of 1993,
when an estimated 2,880 juveniles were
murdered in the U.S. During this same pe­
riod, the estimated number of adults mur­
dered fell 30%.
Of all juveniles murdered in 2006, 33%
were under age 5, 73% were male, and
49% were white. Of all juveniles murdered
in 2006, 26% of male victims, 50% of fe­
male victims, 39% of white victims, and
27% of black victims were under age 5.
In 2006, 68% of all murder victims were
killed with a firearm. Adults were more
likely to be killed with a firearm (70%)
than were juveniles (54%). However, the
involvement of a firearm depended greatly
on the age of the juvenile victim. In 2006,
18% of murdered juveniles under age 13
were killed with a firearm, compared with
82% of murdered juveniles age 13 or older.
The most common method of murdering
children under age 5 was by physical as­
sault: in 50% of these murders, the offend­
ers’ only weapons were their hands
and/or feet, compared with only 2% of ju­
venile victims age 13 or older and 4% of
adult victims. In 2006, knives or other cut­
ting instruments were used in 7% of juve­
nile murders and 13% of adult murders.

The 2.2 million arrests of juveniles in 2006 was 24% fewer than the
number of arrests in 1997
Percent of Total
2006
Juvenile Arrests
Estimated
Number of
Under
Juvenile Arrests Female Age 15

Most Serious
Offense

Total
2,219,600
Violent Crime Index
100,700
Murder and nonnegligent
manslaughter
1,310
Forcible rape
3,610
Robbery
35,040
Aggravated assault
60,770
Property Crime Index
404,700
Burglary
83,900
Larceny-theft
278,100
Motor vehicle theft
34,600
Arson
8,100
Nonindex
Other assaults
249,400
Forgery and counterfeiting
3,500
Fraud
8,100
Embezzlement
1,400
Stolen property (buying,
receiving, possessing)
21,300
Vandalism
117,500
Weapons (carrying,
possessing, etc.)
47,200
Prostitution and
commercialized vice
1,600
Sex offense (except forcible
rape and prostitution)
15,900
Drug abuse violations
196,700
Gambling
2,200
Offenses against the
family and children
5,200
Driving under the influence
20,100
Liquor laws
141,400
Drunkenness
16,300
Disorderly conduct
207,700
Vagrancy
5,000
All other offenses
(except traffic)
386,000
Suspicion (not included
in totals)
500
Curfew and loitering
152,900
Runaways
114,200

Percent Change
1997–
2002–
2005–
2006
2006
2006

29%
17

29%
29

–24%
–20

–3%
8

1%
4

5
2
9
23
32
11
41
17
14

8
36
23
32
33
32
34
23
58

–42
–31
–16
–21
–44
–37
–45
–53
–22

18
–20
34
–1
–17
–6
–19
–28
–5

3
–10
19
–2
–5
5
–8
–8
0

34
33
34
45

39
11
15
4

2
–59
–31
3

5
–34
–14
–3

–1
–20
–5
20

15
13

25
41

–45
–14

–12
10

1
11

10

33

–10

31

2

74

14

15

16

9

10
16
3

47
15
15

–16
–11
–43

–18
1
20

–9
2
–14

37
23
36
25
33
30

31
3
9
11
39
33

–48
1
–15
–30
7
–36

–40
–8
–5
–7
8
4

–6
9
9
12
0
10

27

25

–19

–3

2

22
31
57

22
27
33

–74
–31
–45

–72
6
–11

–15
4
–2

◆	 In 2006, there were an estimated 60,770 juvenile arrests for aggravated assault.
Between 1997 and 2006, the annual number of such arrests fell 21%.
◆	 Between 1995 and 2004, juvenile robbery and aggravated assault arrests declined
substantially (down 44% and 23%, respectively). However, in the next two years,
while juvenile aggravated assault arrests continued to fall (slightly), juvenile arrests
for robbery increased (11% in 2005 and 19% in 2006).
◆	 In 2006, females accounted for 17% of juvenile Violent Crime Index arrests, 32%
of juvenile Property Crime Index arrests, and 16% of juvenile drug abuse arrests.
◆	 In 2006, youth under the age of 15 accounted for about one-third of all violent
(29%) and property crime (33%) arrests.
Note: Detail may not add to totals because of rounding.
Data source: Crime in the United States 2006 (Washington, DC: Federal Bureau of
Investigation, 2007), tables 29, 32, 34, 36, 38, and 40. Arrest estimates were developed by the
National Center for Juvenile Justice.

3

1 in 8 violent crimes
were attributed to
juveniles
The relative responsibility of juveniles and
adults for crime is difficult to determine.
Law enforcement is more likely to clear
crimes that juveniles commit. Therefore,
law enforcement records are likely to
overestimate juvenile responsibility for
crime.
Clearance data show that the proportion
of violent crimes that law enforcement at­
tributes to juveniles has been rather con­
stant in recent years, holding between
12% and 13% from 1996 through 2006. The
proportions of both forcible rapes and ag­
gravated assaults fluctuated between 11%
and 12% over this period, while the pro­
portion of murders attributed to juveniles
ranged between 5% and 6% between 1998
and 2006. In contrast, the proportion of
robberies attributed to juveniles varied,
falling from 18% to 14% between 1996 and
2002 and then increasing gradually to 17%
by 2006.
In 2006, 19% of Property Crime Index of­
fenses cleared by arrest or exceptional
means were cleared by the arrest of a ju­
venile. This was one percentage point
above the level in 2005, which was the
lowest level since at least the mid-1960s.
For comparison, the proportion of Prop­
erty Crime Index offenses that law en­
forcement attributed to juveniles was 28%
in 1980 and 22% in both 1990 and 2000.

Juvenile arrests for
violence increased in
2005 and 2006
The FBI assesses trends in violent crimes
by monitoring four offenses that are con­
sistently reported by law enforcement
agencies nationwide. These four crimes—
murder and nonnegligent manslaughter,
forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault—form the Violent Crime Index.
Following 10 years of declines between
1994 and 2004, juvenile arrests for Violent
Crime Index offenses increased 2% from
2004 to 2005, and 4% from 2005 to 2006.
Given that the number of arrests in 2004
was smaller than in any year since 1987,
the number of juvenile Violent Crime In­
dex arrests in 2006 was still relatively low.
In fact, the number of juvenile violent
crime arrests in 2006 was lower than any
year in the 1990s, and just 7% above the

average annual number of such arrests
between 2000 and 2005.
The number of juvenile arrests in 2006 for
forcible rape was lower than in any year
since at least 1980. With one exception
(2004), the number of juvenile aggravated
assault arrests in 2006 was lower than in
any year since 1988. In contrast, after also
falling to a relatively low level in 2004, ju­
venile arrests for murder increased in
2005 and again in 2006. To put it in per­
spective, if the 2004–2006 increase was to
continue annually into the future, it would
take another 25 years for the annual num­
ber of juvenile murder arrests to return to
its peak level of the mid-1990s. However,
juvenile arrests for robbery increased by
19% from 2005 to 2006 following an 11%
increase in the previous year. If this pace
continues, the annual number of juvenile
robbery arrests will return to its 1995
peak in just 4 years.

Between 1997 and 2006, the number of ar­
rests in most offense categories declined
more for juveniles than for adults:
Percent Change
in Arrests
1997–2006
Most Serious
Juvenile Adult
Offense
Violent Crime Index
–20%
–11%
Murder
–42
–12
Forcible rape
–31
–8
Robbery
–16
–3
Aggravated assault
–21
–12
Property Crime Index
–44
–14
Burglary
–37
0
Larceny-theft
–45
–18
Motor vehicle theft
–53
–2
Simple assault
2
–6
Weapons law violations –10
–5
Drug abuse violations
–11
23
Data source: Crime in the United States 2006,
table 32.

In 2006, juveniles were involved in 1 in 10 arrests for murder and drug
abuse violations and 1 in 4 arrests for a weapons violation, robbery,
motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft, and burglary
Total

Violent Crime Index

Property Crime Index

Arson
Vandalism
Disorderly conduct

Robbery

Burglary

Larceny-theft

Motor vehicle theft

Weapons

Liquor laws

Other assaults

Sex offenses

Gambling

Stolen property

Forcible rape

Vagrancy

Aggravated assault

Drug abuse violations

Murder

Offenses against the family

Drunkenness

Fraud

Prostitution

Driving under the influence

0%

16%
17%
26%
49%
39%
30%
28%
28%
26%
25%
24%
22%
19%
18%
18%
17%
15%
14%
14%
10%
10%
4%
3%
3%
2%
1%
10%
20%
30%
40%
Percent of arrests involving juveniles

Data source: Crime in the United States 2006 (Washington, DC: Federal Bureau of
Investigation, 2007), table 38.

4

50%

Juvenile arrests for
property crimes in 2006
were the lowest in at
least three decades
As with violent crime, the FBI assesses
trends in the volume of property crimes
by monitoring four offenses that are con­
sistently reported by law enforcement
agencies nationwide and are pervasive in
all geographical areas of the country.
These four crimes, which form the Proper­
ty Crime Index, are burglary, larceny-theft,
motor vehicle theft, and arson.
For the period 1980–1994, during which ju­
venile violent crime arrests increased sub­
stantially, juvenile property crime arrests
remained relatively constant. After this
long period of relative stability, juvenile
property crime arrests began to fall. Be­
tween 1994 and 2006, the number of juve­
nile Property Crime Index arrests fell by
half, to their lowest level since at least the
1970s. This period also saw large declines
in juvenile arrests for individual property
offenses—burglary (41%), larceny-theft
(45%), and motor vehicle theft (61%)—
making arrests for each property crime in
2006 at or near their lowest level since at
least the 1970s.

Most arrested juveniles
were referred to court
In most states, some persons younger
than age 18 are, because of their age or by
statutory exclusion, under the jurisdiction
of the criminal justice system. For arrested
persons younger than age 18 and under
the original jurisdiction of their State’s ju­
venile justice system, the FBI’s UCR Pro­
gram monitors what happens as a result of
the arrest. This is the only instance in the
UCR Program in which the statistics on ar­
rests coincide with State variations in the
legal definition of a juvenile.
In 2006, 21% of arrests involving youth eligi­
ble in their State for processing in the juve­
nile justice system were handled within law
enforcement agencies and the arrestees
were released, 69% were referred to juvenile
court, and 8% were referred directly to
criminal court. The others were referred to
a welfare agency or to another police
agency. In 2006, the proportion of juvenile
arrests sent to juvenile court in cities with
a population of more than 250,000 (69%)
was similar to the proportion sent to juve­
nile court in smaller cities (70%).

Following 2004, when it fell to its lowest level since at least 1980, the

juvenile Violent Crime Index arrest rate increased in 2005 and 2006

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17

600

500


Violent Crime Index

400

300
200
100
0
80

82

84

86

88

90

92
94
Year

96

98

00

02

04

06

◆	 The juvenile Violent Crime Index arrest rate increased 12% between 2004 and
2006. This increase follows a year in which the rate had reached a historically low
level. To place the extent of this increase in perspective, if the rate continued to in­
crease annually by the same amount, it would be almost 14 years before it once
again reached the peak level of 1994.
Data source: Analysis of arrest data from the FBI and population data from the U.S. Census
Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics. [See data source note on p. 12 for detail.]

After years of relative stability, the juvenile Property Crime Index arrest
rate began a decline in the mid-1990s that continued through 2006
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17

3,000

2,500
2,000


Property Crime Index

1,500

1,000
500
0
80

82

84

86

88

90

92
94
Year

96

98

00

02

04

06

◆	 The juvenile arrest rate for Property Crime Index offenses in 2006 was less than
half of what it was in 1980—down 53% over the period. The large declines over the
last decade in the two arrest Indexes that have traditionally been used to monitor
juvenile crime indicate a substantial reduction in the law-violating behavior of Amer­
ica’s youth over this period.
Data source: Analysis of arrest data from the FBI and population data from the U.S. Census
Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics. [See data source note on p. 12 for detail.]

5

In 2006, the juvenile arrest rates for murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault were each well
below their peak levels of the 1990s
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
16
14
12

◆ From the mid-1980s to the peak in 1993, the juvenile arrest
rate for murder more than doubled.
◆ Then, with one exception (2001), the juvenile arrest rate for
murder fell each year through 2004, dropping the rate to 77%
below its peak in 1993.

Murder

10

Murder

8
6

◆ The growth in the juvenile murder arrest rate between 2004
and 2006 returned it to near its 2002 level; but even with this
increase, the rate in 2006 was 73% below its 1993 peak.

4
2
0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
25
20

Forcible rape
15

5
0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
200
175
150
100

◆ Following the general pattern of other assaultive offenses, the
juvenile arrest rate for forcible rape increased from the early
1980s through the early 1990s and then fell substantially.
◆ Over the 1980–2006 period, the juvenile arrest rate for forcible
rape peaked in 1991, 44% above its 1980 level.

10

125

Forcible Rape

Robbery

75
50
25
0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
300
250
200

Aggravated assault
150
100
50

◆ From 1991, with minor exceptions, the juvenile arrest rate for
forcible rape dropped annually through 2006. By 1999, it had
returned to its 1980 level. By 2006, the rate had fallen to a point
35% below the 1980 level, 55% below its 1991 peak, and to its
lowest level in more than a generation.

Robbery
◆ Unlike the juvenile arrest rates for other violent crimes, the rate
for robbery declined through much of the 1980s, reaching a low
point in 1988. Then, like the violent crime arrest rate in general,
the juvenile robbery arrest rate grew by the mid-1990s to a
point above the 1980 level.
◆ The juvenile robbery arrest rate declined substantially (62%)
between 1995 and 2002. However, in each of the next four
years the arrest rate increased, so that by 2006 the rate was
43% above its low point in 2002 but still 46% below its 1995
peak.

Aggravated Assault
◆ The juvenile arrest rate for aggravated assault doubled be­
tween 1980 and 1994 and then fell substantially and consis­
tently through 2004, down 39% from its 1994 peak.
◆ After many years of decline, the juvenile arrest rate for aggra­
vated assault increased slightly in both 2005 and 2006 (up 2%
for the period). This pattern of relative stability between 2002
and 2006 is in contrast to the relatively large increase in the ju­
venile robbery arrest rate over the same period.

0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year
Data source: Analysis of arrest data from the FBI and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics. [See
data source note on p. 12 for detail.]

6

Juvenile arrest rate trends for the four offenses that make up the Property Crime Index show very different
patterns over the 1980–2006 period
Burglary

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
800

◆ Unique in the set of Property Crime Index offenses, the juve­
nile arrest rate for burglary declined almost consistently and
fell substantially between 1980 and 2006, down 69%.

700

Burglary

600
500

◆ This large fall in juvenile arrests from 1980 through 2006 was
not replicated in the adult statistics. For example, between
1997 and 2006, the number of juvenile burglary arrests fell
37%, while adult burglary arrests remained essentially the
same. In 1980, 45% of all burglary arrests were arrests of a ju­
venile; in 2006, reflecting the greater decline in juvenile arrests,
just 28% of burglary arrests were juvenile arrests.

400
300
200
100
0

Larceny-Theft

80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
1,750

◆ The juvenile arrest rate for larceny-theft remained essentially
constant between 1980 and 1997, then fell 47% between 1997
and 2006.

1,500
1,250

◆ In 2006, 69% of all juvenile arrests for Property Crime Index
offenses were for larceny-theft. Therefore, the annual trends
of juvenile arrests for Property Crime Index offenses largely
reflect the pattern of larceny-theft arrests (which itself is domi­
nated by shoplifting—the most common larceny-theft viola­
tion). As can be seen on this page, the juvenile arrest trends
for individual property crimes vary considerably and, therefore,
should be considered separately.

Larceny-theft

1,000
750
500
250
0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

Motor Vehicle Theft

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
350

◆ The juvenile arrest rate for motor vehicle theft more than dou­
bled between 1983 and 1990, up 137%.

300

◆ After the peak years of 1990 and 1991, the juvenile arrest rate
for motor vehicle theft declined substantially and consistently
through 2006, falling 70%. In 2006, the juvenile arrest rate for
motor vehicle theft was lower than in any year in the
1980–2006 period.

250

◆ This large decline in juvenile arrests was not replicated in the
adult statistics. Between 1996 and 2006, the number of juvenile
motor vehicle theft arrests fell more than 53%, while adult mo­
tor vehicle theft arrests decreased just 2%.

50

200
150

Motor vehicle theft

100

0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
35

Arson
◆ After being relatively stable for most of the 1980s, the juvenile
arrest rate for arson grew 33% between 1990 and 1994.

30

◆ The juvenile arrest rate for arson declined substantially be­
tween 1994 and 2006, falling 33%.

25

◆ In the 27 years from 1980 through 2006, only 6 years had a
lower juvenile arrest rate for arson than did 2006. The 2006
rate was just 7% above the lowest rate in the period.

15

Arson

20

10
5
0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

Data source: Analysis of arrest data from the FBI and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics. [See
data source note on p. 12 for detail.]

7

Juvenile male and female arrest trends were similar for robbery and
drug law violations but differed for aggravated and simple assault
Robbery
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
400

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
40

300

30

Male

200
100

Female

20
10

Female

0

0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

Aggravated assault
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
500

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
120

400

100

300

Male

80

Female

60
200

Female

100

40
20
0

0

80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

Other (simple) assault
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
1,200

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
600

1,000

500

800
600

200

Female

300
200

400

Female

100
0

0

80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

Drug abuse violations
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
1,400
1,200
1,000
Male
800
600
400
Female
200
0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

Law enforcement agencies made 641,000
arrests of females under age 18 in 2006.
From 1997 through 2006, arrests of juve­
nile females decreased less than male
arrests in most offense categories (e.g.,
aggravated assault); in some categories
(e.g., simple assault), female arrests in­
creased, while male arrests decreased.
Percent Change in
Juvenile Arrests
1997–2006
Most Serious
Male
Offense
Female
Violent Crime Index
–12%
–22%
Aggravated assault
–10%
–24%
Simple assault
19
–4
Property Crime Index –35
–48
Burglary
–31
–38
Larceny-theft
–34
–51
Motor vehicle theft
–49
–54
Vandalism
–4
–15
Weapons
5
–11
Drug abuse violations
2
–14
Liquor law violations
1
–22
DUI
39
–6
Disorderly conduct
33
–2
Data source: Crime in the United States 2006,
table 33.

400

Male

In 2006, 29% of
juvenile arrests
involved females

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
250
200
150

Female

100
50
0

80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

◆ A similar growth and subsequent decline in juvenile male and female robbery arrest
rates between 1980 and 2006 left each below their 1980s levels (36% and 12%,
respectively). Over the period, juvenile male and female drug arrest rates both in­
creased by half (55% and 47%, respectively).
◆ Unlike robbery, the juvenile female arrest rate for aggravated assault did not decline
after its 1990s peak as much as did the male rate. As a result, in 2006, the juvenile
male arrest rate was just 13% above its 1980 level, while the female rate was al­
most double its 1980 rate (up 94%). Similarly, while the male arrest rate for simple
assault over the 1980–2006 period doubled, the female rate quadrupled.
Data source: Analysis of arrest data from the FBI and population data from the U.S. Census
Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics. [See data source note on p. 12 for detail.]

8

Gender differences also occurred in the
assault arrest trends for adults. Between
1997 and 2006, adult male arrests for ag­
gravated assault fell 14%, while female ar­
rests fell 2%. Similarly, adult male arrests
for simple assault fell 10% between 1997
and 2006, while adult female arrests rose
8%. Therefore, the female proportion of
arrests grew for both types of assault. It
is likely that the disproportionate growth
in female assault arrests over this period
was related to factors that affected both
juveniles and adults.
Gender differences in arrest trends also
increased the proportion of arrests in­
volving females in other offense cate­
gories for both juveniles and adults. The
number of drug abuse violation arrests of
juvenile females grew 2% between 1997
and 2006, while juvenile male arrests de­
clined 14%. Drug abuse violation arrests
of adult females grew more than adult
male arrests (33% and 21%, respectively).
The greater decline in male than in female
arrests for Property Crime Index offenses
seen for juveniles between 1997 and 2006
was also seen in adult arrests, with adult
male arrests falling 15% and adult female
arrests falling 10%.

Juvenile arrests
disproportionately
involved minorities
The racial composition of the U.S. juvenile
population in 2006 was 78% white, 17%
black, 5% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1%
American Indian. Most Hispanics (an eth­
nic designation, not a race) were classified
as white. Of all juvenile arrests for violent
crimes in 2006, 47% involved white youth,
51% involved black youth, 1% involved
Asian youth, and 1% involved American In­
dian youth. For property crime arrests,
the proportions were 66% white youth,
31% black youth, 2% Asian youth, and 1%
American Indian youth. Black youth were
overrepresented in juvenile arrests.
Most Serious
Offense

Black Proportion of
Juvenile Arrests in 2006
Murder
59%
Forcible rape
34
Robbery
67
Aggravated assault
42
Simple assault
39
Burglary
32
Larceny-theft
30
Motor vehicle theft
43
Weapons
37
Drug abuse violations
30
Vandalism
19
Liquor laws
5
Data source: Crime in the United States 2006,
table 43.

The Violent Crime Index arrest rate (i.e.,
arrests per 100,000 juveniles in the racial
group) in 2006 for black juveniles (934)
was 5 times the rates for white juveniles
(184) and American Indian juveniles (174)
and 12 times the rate for Asian juveniles
(78). For Property Crime Index arrests, the
rate for black juveniles (2,278) was double
the rates for white juveniles (1,046) and
American Indian juveniles (954) and 5
times the rate for Asian juveniles (461).
In the 1980s, the Violent Crime Index ar­
rest rate for black juveniles was between 6
and 7 times the white rate. This ratio de­
clined during the 1990s, falling to 4-to-1 in
1999. Between 1999 and 2006, the racial
disparity in the rates increased, reaching
5-to-1 in 2006. This increase was the result
of an increase in the black rate, while the
white rate declined (9% vs. –24%, respec­
tively). More specifically, over this period,
the robbery arrest rate increased for black
juveniles while the white rate declined
(38% vs. –16%, respectively), and the
black juvenile arrest rate for aggravated
assault declined far less than the white
rate (–6% vs. –25%, respectively).

Although annual arrest rates varied considerably across races, trends
in those rates from 1980 through 2006 had many similarities
Murder
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
60
50
40
30

Black

20
10

White

0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
7
6
White
5
4
3
2
1
0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

Robbery
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
800
600

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
100

White

80

Asian

Black

60

400
40
200

Amer. Indian

20

White

0

0

80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

Aggravated assault
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
1,000
800

Amer. Indian

200

Black

600

White

150

400
200

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
250

100

White

Asian

50

0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

Property Crime Index
Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
5,000

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
3,000

4,000

2,500

Black

3,000

Amer. Indian

2,000

White

1,500

2,000

White

1,000

1,000

Asian

500

0

0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

◆ The white juvenile murder arrest rate in 2006 was at its lowest level since at least
1980, having fallen 69% since its peak in 1993. The black rate in 2006 was still
73% below its 1993 peak, even though it increased between 2004 and 2006.
◆ After peaking in the mid-1990s, robbery and aggravated assault arrest rates fell
substantially for all four racial groups.
◆ From 1994 through 2006, the Property Crime Index arrest rates dropped for juve­
niles in all racial groups. In fact, rates were cut in half or even more.
Note: Murder rates for American Indian youth and Asian youth are not presented because the
small number of arrests and small population sizes produce unstable rate trends.
Data source: Analysis of arrest data from the FBI and population data from the U.S. Census
Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics. [See data source note on p. 12 for detail.]

9

In 2006, the juvenile arrest rate trend for weapons
law violations continued an increase that began
in 2003

After a considerable rise in the 1990s, the juvenile
arrest rate for drug abuse violations has trended
downward from 1997 through 2006

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
250

Arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10–17
800
700

200

600

Weapons

500

150

Drug abuse

400
100

300
200

50

100
0

0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

◆ Between 1980 and 1993, the juvenile arrest rate for
weapons law violations increased more than 140%. Then
the rate fell substantially, so that by 2002 the rate was just
14% above the 1980 level.

◆ Between 1990 and 1997, the juvenile arrest rate for drug
abuse violations increased 145%. The rate declined 21%
between 1997 and 2006, but the 2006 rate was still al­
most double the 1990 rate.

◆ However, between 2002 and 2006, the juvenile weapons
arrest rate grew 35%, making the 2006 rate 53% above
the 1980 level and 37% below its peak in 1993. During the
recent growth period from 2002 to 2006, the white juvenile
arrest rate for weapons law violations grew 23% and the
black rate grew 58%.

◆ Over the 1980–2006 period, the white juvenile arrest rate
for drug abuse violations peaked in 1997 and then held
relatively constant through 2006 (down 11%). In contrast,
the black rate peaked in 1995 and by 2002 had fallen
49%. The growth in recent years has brought the black
rate back to within 36% of its 1995 peak.

After about a decade of substantial decline, the
number of juveniles murdered using a firearm
increased in 2004, 2005, and 2006

The juvenile proportion of alleged murder offend­
ers known to law enforcement grew some between
2003 and 2006 but was well below the 1994 peak

Juvenile homicide victims
1,750
1,500

Percent of alleged murder offenders known to law enforcement
18%
16%
14%
12%
10%
Juvenile offenders
8%
6%
4%
2%
0%
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

Firearm involved

1,250
1,000
750

No firearm
involved

500
250
0
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06
Year

◆ In 1994, 1 of every 6 alleged murder offenders known to
law enforcement was under the age of 18. In 2006, this ra­
tio was 1 in 11.

◆ Between 1980 and 2006, juvenile murder trends were driv­
en by the changing number of juveniles murdered with a
firearm. For example, between 1993 and 2003, the num­
ber of juveniles murdered in the U.S. fell 45%, with 80% of
the decline due to the drop in firearm-related murders.

◆ Even following the growth between 2003 and 2006 in the
juvenile proportion of alleged murder offenders known to
law enforcement, the 2006 proportion was still lower than
any year in the 1990s.

◆ Between 2003 and 2006, while nonfirearm-related mur­
ders declined 5%, murders of juveniles by firearms in­
creased 36%. In the early 1990s, about 61% of murdered
juveniles were killed with a firearm; this percentage fell to
43% in 2001 and rose to 54% in 2006.

Data source: Analysis of arrest data from the FBI and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics.
[See data source note on p. 12 for detail.]

10

State variations in juvenile arrest rates may reflect differences in juvenile law-violating behavior, police
behavior, and/or community standards; therefore, comparisons should be made with caution

State
United States
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut

2006 Juvenile Arrest Rate*
Violent Property
Crime
Drug
Reporting Crime
Coverage Index
Index Abuse Weapons
78%†
315
1,256
600
141
592
263
37
80
141
1,622
314
99
96
218
96
240
1,394
767
80

State

2006 Juvenile Arrest Rate*
Violent Property
Reporting Crime
Crime
Drug
Coverage Index
Index Abuse Weapons

Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada

98%
0
87
99

341
NA
106
213

1,650
NA
1892
1211

703
NA
638
504

127
NA
91
180

69
100
95
61

239
389
220
403

1,217
1,034
1,573
1,128

445
496
738
543

77
214
149
119

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York

79
97
65
49

90
362
266
314

886
881
1002
1104

618
695
618
608

17
217
196
85

Delaware
100
District of Columbia 0
Florida
100
Georgia
34

607
NA
485
377

1,491
NA
1,772
1,243

862
NA
789
682

171
NA
132
188

North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma

76
90
50
91

287
69
194
201

1331
1595
1064
1179

454
399
432
473

214
70
94
101

Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana

84
84
23
59

218
145
1,029
147

1,092
1,829
1,679
1,408

360
509
2,415
477

36
113
308
34

Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina

84
88
89
90

209
468
143
342

1798
1046
893
1043

550
543
461
697

83
150
131
204

Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana

83
65
23
48

263
164
371
436

1,676
895
2,092
1,585

396
425
1,387
772

42
64
136
132

South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah

47
81
96
79

27
321
185
117

417
1087
1002
1793

171
624
548
477

14
146
69
142

100
99
85
93

92
583
362
223

1,435
1,890
502
1,066

456
1,173
387
360

38
256
46
93

Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia

83
77
82
49

103
171
237
45

585
905
1695
275

297
412
490
195

13
105
145
10

89
56

234
135

1,735
1,006

567
518

180
124

Wisconsin
Wyoming

95
98

297
138

2583
1521

839
941

261
87

Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi

* Throughout this Bulletin, juvenile arrest rates are calculated by dividing the number of arrests of persons ages 10–17 by the number of persons
ages 10–17 in the population. In this table only, arrest rate is defined as the number of arrests of persons under age 18 for every 100,000 persons
ages 10–17. Juvenile arrests (arrests of youth under age 18) reported at the State level in Crime in the United States cannot be disaggregated into
more detailed age categories so that the arrest of persons under age 10 can be excluded in the rate calculation. Therefore, there is a slight incon­
sistency in this table between the age range for the arrests (birth through age 17) and the age range for the population (ages 10–17) that are the
basis of a State’s juvenile arrest rates. This inconsistency is slight because just 1% of all juvenile arrests involved youth under age 10. This inconsis­
tency is preferable to the distortion of arrest rates that would be introduced were the population base for the arrest rate to incorporate the large vol­
ume of children under age 10 in a State’s population.
† The reporting coverage for the total United States in this table (78%) includes all States reporting arrests of persons under age 18. This is greater
than the coverage in the rest of the Bulletin (72%) for various reasons. For example, Florida provided arrest counts of persons under age 18 but did
not provide the age detail required to support other presentations in Crime in the United States 2006.
NA = Crime in the United States 2006 reported no arrest counts for the District of Columbia and Montana.
Interpretation cautions: Arrest rates are calculated by dividing the number of youth arrests made in the year by the number of youth liv­
ing in reporting jurisdictions. While juvenile arrest rates in part reflect juvenile behavior, many other factors can affect the size of these
rates. For example, jurisdictions that arrest a relatively large number of nonresident juveniles would have higher arrest rates than juris­
dictions where resident youth behave in an identical manner. Therefore, jurisdictions that are vacation destinations or regional centers
for economic activity may have arrest rates that reflect more than the behavior of their resident youth. Other factors that influence the
magnitude of arrest rates in a given area include the attitudes of its citizens toward crime, the policies of the jurisdiction’s law enforce­
ment agencies, and the policies of other components of the justice system. Consequently, comparisons of juvenile arrest rates
across States, while informative, should be made with caution. In most States, not all law enforcement agencies report their arrest
data to the FBI. Rates for these States are necessarily based on partial information. If the reporting law enforcement agencies in these
States are not representative of the entire State, then the rates will be biased. Therefore, reported arrest rates for States with less
than complete reporting coverage may not be accurate.
Data source: Analysis of arrest data from the FBI’s Crime in the United States 2006 (Washington, DC: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2007),
tables 5 and 69, and population data from the National Center for Health Statistics’ Estimates of the July 1, 2000–July 1, 2006, United States
Resident Population From the Vintage 2006 Postcensal Series by Year, County, Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin [machine-readable data files
available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/about/major/dvs/popbridge/popbridge.htm, released 8/16/2007].

11

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

*NCJ~221338*

PRESORTED STANDARD
POSTAGE & FEES PAID
DOJ/OJJDP
PERMIT NO. G–91

Washington, DC 20531
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Bulletin

Data source note
Analysis of arrest data from unpublished FBI
reports for 1980 through 1997, from Crime in
the United States reports for 1998 through
2003 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government
Printing Office, 1999 through 2004, respec­
tively), and from Crime in the United States
reports for 2004 through 2006 that are avail­
able online at www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm#cius,
released September 2007; population data
for 1980–1989 from the U.S. Bureau of the
Census, U.S. Population Estimates by Age,
Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1980 to 1999
[machine-readable data files available online,
released April 11, 2000]; population data for
1990–1999 from the National Center for
Health Statistics (prepared by the U.S. Cen­
sus Bureau with support from the National
Cancer Institute), Bridged-race Intercensal Es­
timates of the July 1, 1990–July 1, 1999, United
States Resident Population by County, Singleyear of Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin
[machine-readable data files available online
at www.cdc.gov/nchs/about/major/dvs/
popbridge/popbridge.htm, released July 26,
2004]; and population data for 2000–2006
from the National Center for Health Statistics
(prepared under a collaborative arrange­
ment with the U.S. Census Bureau), Estimates
of the July 1, 2000–July 1, 2006, United States
Resident Population From the Vintage 2006
Postcensal Series by Year, County, Age, Sex,
Race, and Hispanic Origin [machine-readable

NCJ 221338
data files available online at www. cdc.gov/
nchs/about/major/dvs/popbridge/
popbridge.htm, released August 16, 2007].

Notes
In this Bulletin, “juvenile” refers to per­
sons under age 18. This definition is at
odds with the legal definition of juveniles
in 2006 in 13 states—10 states where all
17-year-olds are defined as adults and 3
states where all 16- and 17-year-olds are
defined as adults.
FBI arrest data in this Bulletin are counts
of arrests detailed by age of arrestee and
offense categories from all law enforce­
ment agencies that reported complete
data for the calendar year. (See Crime in
the United States for offense definitions.)
The proportion of the U.S. population
covered by these reporting agencies
ranged from 63% to 94% between 1980
and 2006, with the 2006 coverage being 72%.
Estimates of the number of persons in
each age group in the reporting agencies’
resident populations assume that the resi­
dent population age profiles are like the
nation’s. Reporting agencies’ total popula­
tions were multiplied by the U.S. Census
Bureau’s most current estimate of the
proportion of the U.S. population for each
age group.

Acknowledgments
This Bulletin was written by Howard
N. Snyder, Ph.D., former Chief of
Systems Research at the National
Center for Juvenile Justice, with funds
provided by OJJDP to support the
National Juvenile Justice Data
Analysis Project. The author gratefully
acknowledges the assistance that the
FBI’s Criminal Justice Information
Services Division provided.
This Bulletin was prepared under cooperative
agreement number 2005–JF–FX–K022 from the
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention (OJJDP), U.S. Department of Justice.
Points of view or opinions expressed in this
document are those of the author and do not
necessarily represent the official position or
policies of OJJDP or the U.S. Department of
Justice.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention is a component of the Office of
Justice Programs, which also includes the Bu­
reau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Jus­
tice Statistics; the Community Capacity
Development Office; the National Institute of
Justice; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the
Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring,
Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking
(SMART).

 

 

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