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September 1995

Violent Crime in the United States: An Epidemiologic Profile

Author Affiliations

From the Center for Minority Health Research, University of Maryland, Baltimore (Ms Rachuba and Drs Stanton and Howard); and Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland Medical School, Baltimore (Dr Stanton).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(9):953-960. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170220019002

Objectives:  To determine if (1) there was an increase in the rates of acts of violence in the United States from 1973 to 1992 and (2) there were disproportionate changes in rates of violent crime among specific demographic groups.

Methods:  Crime data from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the National Crime Victimization Survey beginning in January 1973 and ending in December 1992 were examined. Homicide data from 1970 to 1991 were examined with the National Center for Health Statistics mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Analyses were performed for overall crime rates as well as for specific demographic groups.

Results:  Rates of victimization from all types of violent crime have increased among adolescents and young adults (from ages 10 through 25 years), regardless of gender or race. Absolute rates were highest among African Americans and males. Both the highest rates and the greatest increases in homicide from 1971 to 1990 were among adolescents and young adults, while rates for those aged 25 years and older decreased. A substantial increase in firearm-related homicides among adolescents and young adults occurred as well, with rates decreasing for those aged 25 years and older. Overall rates of homicide have remained relatively constant during the past two decades. Data addressing overall trends in the rates of nonfatal violence during the past 20 years are inconclusive.

Conclusions:  Adolescents are now experiencing the highest and most rapidly increasing rates of lethal and nonlethal violence. The increase in violence among youths 10 to 14 years of age is especially important and alarming. The concentration of violence among children and adolescents has important intervention implications. Because adolescence is a time of great developmental changes, approaches to understanding and preventing violence among our nation's youths should incorporate a developmental perspective that also focuses on the relationship and interactions between individuals and their environments, at the family, community, and societal levels.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:953-960)

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