Youth Violence Myths and Realities: A Tale of Three Cities

The Different Story of Delinquent Youth as Told by the Media and by Juvenile Justice System Professionals and the Youth Themselves

By the National Council on Crime and Delinquency

February 13, 2009


This report examines the youth perspective on violence, life circumstance, and the response of the justice system to a supposed growth of violence among troubled youth, based on studies in Dallas; Washington, D.C.; and San Mateo, California. 

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

System reform requires the involvement of youth, families and communities

Recommended steps toward engaging constituents in reforming the juvenile justice system include:

  • Implementing a campaign to disseminate accurate public information.
  • Expanding funding for public education.
  • Promoting healthy parenting programs.
  • Expanding training for law enforcement.
  • Acknowledging that those involved in the system are adolescents, not predators.

Findings & Stats

AECF Crime Rate

Public Perception

Most adults in the United States — 71% — believed crime increased across the country from 2006 to 2007; 51% believed crime in their local area was higher than the previous year.

AECF fightcrime

Fighting Crime

Most adults surveyed — 65% — believed the best way to reduce crime was tackling social problems; 71% of 18 to 29 year-olds favored this approach. Whites were more likely to favor increasing police (34%) versus non-whites (14%).

AECF Reduce Youth Crime

Reducing Youth Crime

The majority of adults surveyed believed providing more education, job training and prevention services were more effective ways to reduce juvenile crime than stiffer penalties.

Statements & Quotations