Child Delinquency

Child Delinquency - U.S. Department of Justice Office of...

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Bulletin Series U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention J. Robert Flores, Administrator May 2003 Sparked by high-profile cases involving children who commit violent crimes, pub- lic concerns regarding child delinquents have escalated. Compared with juveniles who first become involved in delinquency in their teens, child delinquents (offenders younger than age 13) face a much greater risk of becoming serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders. OJJDP formed the Study Group on Very Young Offenders to explore what is known about the prev- alence and frequency of very young offending, investigate how very young offenders are handled by various systems (e.g., juvenile justice, mental health, and social services), and determine effective methods for preventing very young of- fending. The Study Group identified par- ticular risk and protective factors that are crucial to developing early intervention and protection programs for very young offenders. This Bulletin, the first in OJJDP’s Child Delinquency Series, offers valuable infor- mation on the nature of child delinquency and describes early intervention and pre- vention programs that effectively reduce delinquent behavior. Subsequent Bulletins will present the latest information about child delinquency, including analyses of child delinquency statistics, insights into the early origins of very young offending, and descriptions of early intervention programs and approaches that work to prevent the development of delinquent behavior by focusing on risk and protec- tive factors. Some Key Findings The number of child delinquents 1 (ju- veniles between the ages of 7 and 12) handled in the nation’s juvenile courts has increased 33 percent over the last decade (Snyder, 2001). This develop- ment is cause for concern not only because offense patterns reflect more serious crimes among these youngsters, but also because these very young of- fenders are more likely to continue their involvement in crime. Child delinquents are two to three times more likely to become serious, violent, and chronic offenders 2 than adolescents whose delinquent behavior begins in their Juvenile courts are being challenged by an increase in the number of child delinquents coming before them. In 1997 alone, juvenile courts handled more than 180,000 juvenile offenders younger than 13 years old. These child delinquents account for 1 in 3 juvenile arrests for arson, 1 in 5 juve- nile arrests for sex offenses, and 1 in 12 juvenile arrests for violent crime. Because youth referred to juvenile court before the age of 13 are far more likely to become chronic juve- nile offenders than youth whose initial contact occurs at a later age, there is reason for concern about the growing number of child delinquents.
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Child Delinquency - U.S. Department of Justice Office of...

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