The Rise and Fall of American Youth Violence

Research Report

The Rise and Fall of American Youth Violence

1980 to 2000


Researchers will debate for years why violent crime in the United States increased sharply in the 1980s and early 1990s before dropping just as precipitously in the mid- to late-1990s. All researchers agree, however, that general trends in violent crime during this period had much to do with changing rates of youth crime.
With the recent release of crime data for the year 2000, it is possible to review crime trends over the entire span of years between 1980 and 2000. This report examines these trends and analyzes what portion of the recent crime drop can be attributed to juveniles (under age 18) and young adults (ages 18 to 24). The results demonstrate that while young people helped to generate the growth in violence before 1994, they contributed an even more disproportionate share to the decline in violence after 1994. Most of the recent decline in violent crime, in fact, was due to falling rates of violent crime among the young.

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