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Epidemiology of Serious Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 1997
22 pages
Publication Series
This study examines the varying levels of juveniles' involvement in violent acts according to age, sex, and ethnicity and recommends a public health model of prevention, treatment, and control.
The Causes and Correlates studies are designed to improve understanding of serious delinquency, violence, and drug use through the examination of how individual youth develop within the context of family, school, peers, and community. In 1986 the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention initiated support for three coordinated longitudinal projects: the Denver Youth Survey, the Pittsburgh Youth Study, and the Rochester Youth Development Study. This report was jointly prepared by the three research teams. All of the projects are longitudinal investigations that involve repeated contacts with the same juveniles over a substantial portion of their developmental years. The basic measure used to obtain estimates of the extent of youth involvement in serious violence is essentially identical across sites. In each project, researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with individual juveniles to collect self-report information on the nature and frequency of serious violent behavior within the last reporting period. For the purposes of this study, data show that in general a greater percentage of boys are involved in serious violence than are girls. There is a clear difference in the age curves of serious violence between the sexes; the girls show an expected age curve with prevalence rates peaking in mid-adolescence (ages 13 to 15) and generally declining thereafter. In contrast, boys show no decline in prevalence rates in late adolescence. Although previous studies have generally found male violence prevalence rates to peak at ages 15 to 17, this study has yet to see a decline in males' self-reported involvement in serious violence in late adolescence. With the single exception of 18-year-olds in Rochester, prevalence rates were higher among minority groups than among Caucasians at each age and site. These differences were often substantial. 7 figures, 1 table, and 14 references

Date Published: June 1, 1997