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Youth homicide rate hits 30-year low, but it's not good news for everyone

The homicide rate for individuals aged 10 to 24 was 7.5 per 100,000 young people in 2010, according to a new study. Overall however, declines in the rate have slowed since 2000.

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Youth homicide rates have hit a 30-year low, according to a new CDC report. After a sharp increase in the late 1980s and early 1990s – hitting a high in 1993 – the homicide rate has continued to fall, but since 2000, the decline has slowed considerably, dropping only about 1 percent per year.

Rich Clabaugh/Staff

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Youth homicide rates have hit a 30-year low, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that examined data from 1981 to 2010.

After a sharp increase in the late 1980s and early 1990s – hitting a high in 1993 – the rate has continued to fall.

That's the good news. But homicides, about 80 percent of them due to firearms, are still identified as one of the three leading causes of death for youths aged 10 to 24, the age range used in the study. And since 2000, the decline has slowed considerably, dropping only about 1 percent a year.

There are also still large disparities among different groups, with blacks, males, and youths aged 20 to 24 all much more likely to be homicide victims. And the declines in homicide rates for those at-risk groups have been even slower than for their peers.

"If we really want to reenergize the declines in youth homicide and try to knock it off where it is right now as the third leading cause of death for young people, we need to be more proactive and focus on primary prevention" of violence, says Corinne Ferdon, a behavioral scientist with the CDC's Division of Violence Prevention and an author of the report.

Since 1981, the report shows the homicide rate fluctuating considerably, with the biggest changes in the 1980s and '90s. Between 1985 and 1993, for instance, there was a steep rise of 83 percent, up to 15.9 homicides per 100,000 young people. Then, in the following five years, there was a 43 percent drop.

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