Facts About Violence and American Youth

by | Oct 4, 2013 | Articles

Building Moral Intelligence

No longer can any of us believe that we and our children are immune to lethal youth violence, because today almost every teenager in America goes to school with a kid who is troubled enough to become the next killer – and chances are that kid has access to the weapons necessary to do so. – James Garbarino, author Lost Boys

  • Since World War II, there has been a sevenfold increase in serious assault by juveniles in the United States. 1996 Uniform Crime Report. Washington, DC: US Depart of Justice.
  • While the overall youth homicide rate dropped in 1997, the rate among small town and rural youth increased by 38 percent. Fields, G., & Overberg, P. (1998, March 26). Juvenile Homicide Arrest Rate on Rise in Rural USA. USA Today, sec. A, p. 11
  • Each murder committed by an adolescent is matched by a suicide – about twenty-three hundred each year. Just as youth homicide rates have risen dramatically in recent decades, so too have youth suicide rates skyrocketed – 400 percent since 1950. – CDC
  • 15% of high school boys seriously considered suicide in 1997. About 12 percent of boys made a suicide plan, and 5 percent actually attempted suicide. –CDC.
  • 52% of American teens think their school could be struck by the kind of massacre that devastated Columbine High School. – NYTimes/CBS News poll, Oct. 1999.
  • 27% of middle school students say the daydream about owning a gun. The Just Kid, Inc.; Porter Novelli, 1999 Kid ID Study.
  • 9% of elementary school students expelled for bringing firearms to school. US Department of Education, 1998
  • 35% of sixth through twelfth graders living in cities across the country said they were worried that they not live to old age because they fear they will be shot. Harris Survey, 1992
  • Two-thirds of US teens report they can get a gun in an hour. Fields, G.,& Overberg, P. (1998, March 26). Juvenile Homicide Arrest Rate on Rise in Rural USA. USA Today, sec. A, p. 11
  • Less than 10% of all juvenile killers are psychotic, that is, have symptoms of severe mental illness such as delusions and hallucinations. James Garbarino, Lost Boys, page 26
  • 28% of adolescent boys carried a weapon-a gun, knife, or club-in previous month with 13 percent carrying a weapon to school in the previous month. – CDC, 1998.
  • 20% of all high school-age boys reported that they were in a physical fight on school property in the past year; CDC, 1998
  • 26% of the boys said their property had been stolen or deliberately damaged on school property. – CDC,1998, YRBS
  • 4% of high school boys said that on at least one day in the previous month they feel too unsafe to go to school. –CDC (1998). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance

Michele Borba is the author of Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing and No More Misbehavin’ (Jossey Bass). Refer to www.moralintelligence.com for more practical parenting tips and teacher resources to keep violence out of our children’s lives.

Signup for the Moral Intelligence Newsletter at www.moralintelligence.com