Violent crime reaches record-high levels in U.S. FBI says juveniles are a major factor in increase since '82

August 30, 1992|By Knight-Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON -- Violent crime in the United States surged t record-high levels during 1991, with rapidly rising levels of juvenile violence contributing to the trend, the FBI has reported.

More than 1.9 million violent crimes -- homicides, forcible rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults -- were reported last year, up 5 percent from 1990 and up 45 percent from 1982.

The rate of violence also set a record. At 758 crimes for every 100,000 people, the rate was 4 percent higher than in 1990 and 33 percent higher than in 1982.

These and other alarming statistics are contained in the FBI's annual crime study. The report, "Crime in the United States 1991," is based on statistics provided by state and local law enforcement agencies. It was distributed for release today.

In the overall category, nearly 6 crimes were committed for every 1,000 people last year -- a 1 percent increase over 1990 and 5 percent higher than 1982, the FBI said. Thefts and other property offenses accounted for 87 percent of all crimes.

The public perception of rising crime rates among American youths was validated by the FBI, which said its statistics showed an "unprecedented level of juvenile violence confronting the nation."

There were steep increases in arrests of youths between the ages of 10 and 17 for murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, drug abuse and weapons violations. The increase in youth violence is often attributed to the breakdown in family structures and community institutions.

The increases "were evident in all geographic regions of the country," the FBI said.

The rate of juvenile arrests for violent crimes reached 430 per 100,000 youths in 1990, climbed again in 1991 and is expected to in

crease significantly through the year 2000, the FBI report said. A statistical breakdown by race showed that:

* Police arrested black youths at five times the rate of their white counterparts in 1990.

* The arrest rate for black youths increased by 145 percent from 1980 to 1990. During the same period, arrests of white youths rose by 45 percent.

* Between 1980 and 1990, the rate of juvenile arrests for heroin and cocaine offenses leaped 713 percent. For blacks, the increase was an extraordinary 2,373 percent, while white arrests grew by 251 percent.

* Arrests for weapons violations reached 151 per 100,000 juveniles in 1990, setting another record. The weapons arrest rate for blacks rose 103 percent from 1980 to 1990, about twice the increase for whites.

* Violent crime arrests of youths classified as neither black nor white declined in the 1980s, reaching a new low in 1990. The FBI attributed that development to a large increase in the population of Asian youths, who were described as "the least crime-prone group among juveniles."

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