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Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 1998
8 pages
Although the number of serious and violent juvenile (SVJ) offenders is small, these offenders are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime.
According to a study by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, SVJ offenders are substantially different from typical juveniles involved in delinquent conduct. Most SVJ offenders are male and usually display early minor behavior problems that lead to more serious delinquent acts. SVJ offenders differ from non-SVJ offenders in the following specific ways: most SVJ offenders tend to start offending early and continue longer than non-SVJ offenders; chronic offenders account for more than half of all serious crimes committed by juveniles and most are SVJ offenders; SVJ offending is more prevalent among black youth than among white youth; SVJ offenders tend to develop behavior problems such as aggression, dishonesty, and conflict with authority figures; and SVJ offenders typically advance simultaneously in each problem behavior area. In general, violent behavior results from the interaction of individual, contextual (family, school, and peers), situational, and community factors. Predictors of SVJ offending include persistent and precocious behavior problems during elementary school years, nonserious delinquent acts between 6 and 14 years of age, and gang participation. The most successful early intervention programs to prevent SVJ offending involve simultaneous intervention in the home and in the school. Community interventions, particularly public health approaches that target risk or protective factors, are also important. Components of effective SVJ prevention and treatment programs are identified, and risk factors related to the development of disruptive and serious delinquent behavior are listed. The importance of infrastructure and accountability in dealing with SVJ offenders and research priorities are discussed. 3 references, 4 tables, and 2 figures

Date Published: May 1, 1998