Crimes Against Children Research Center

University of New Hampshire

126 Horton Social Science Center

Durham, NH 03824

David Finkelhor, Ph.D. - Director

FACT SHEET

Children and adolescents have among the highest rates of conventional crime victimization and, in addition, suffer from some crimes – like sexual abuse and family abduction -- specific to childhood. Despite enormous publicity about crime and youth, however, this high vulnerability is seldom mentioned. These facts and statistics about crimes against children are compiled from a variety of sources.


Table of Contents

1. Overall Crime Victimization of Juveniles

2. Homicide

3. Sexual Assault

4. Non-Family Abduction

5. Assault

6. Robbery and Theft

7. Child Maltreatment, Child Abuse and Neglect

8. Child Physical Abuse

9. Child Sexual Abuse

10. Child Neglect

11. Family Abduction

12. Exposure to Domestic Violence

13. School Assaults


Overall Crime Victimization of Juveniles

Children have very high rates of crime victimization.

The approximate total number of violent crime victims from birth through 17 is 2,883,000:

  • 2,101,000 twelve through 17 year olds
  • 782,000* birth through 11 year olds

The approximate number of juvenile crime victims known to police each year is 849,000:

  • 619,000 twelve through 17 year olds
  • 230,000* birth through 11 year olds

*1997 National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data indicating 6% of all violent crimes known to police are to persons 0-11

CCRC data analysis using NIBRS, 1997 and NCVS 1997.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cv96.htm

Crimes against youth are less likely to be reported to the police.

Finkelhor, D. and Ormrod, R. (1999).  Reporting crimes against juveniles. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Youth are more likely than adults to face a weapon-toting assailant.

Juveniles are more likely than adults to experience a victimization related injury.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cv96.htm

Crimes against children have been declining in recent years, along with crimes against all individuals.

Rate of Personal Victimization per 1,000 (excluding murder)

Age

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

% Change 1993-1997

12 to 15

125

117

111

98

91

-27%

16 to 19

121

125

110

106

100

-17%

U.S. Department of Justice. 1997. Changes in Criminal Victimization 1994-1995.

U.S. Department of Justice. 1997. Criminal Victimization 1996: Changes 1995-1996 with Trends 1993-1996.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cv96.htm

U.S. Department of Justice. 1997. Criminal Victimization 1996: Changes 1995-1996 with Trends 1993-1996.

U.S. Department of Justice. 1997. National Crime Victimization Survey: Changes in Criminal Victimization, 1994-95.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cv96.htm

Snyder, H., & Sickmund, M. (1995). Juvenile Offenders and Victims: A National Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Homicide

The homicide rate for juveniles of all ages is lower than for adults.

http://www.fbi.gov/crimestats.htm

Snyder, H., & Sickmund, M. (1995). Juvenile Offenders and Victims: A National Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Year

Number of Juvenile Homicides

Rate per 100,000

Number of Adult Homicides

Rate per 100,000

1985

1,592

2.5

17,388

9.9

1986

1,739

2.7

18,871

10.7

1987

1,738

2.7

18,362

10.3

1988

1,949

3.1

18,731

10.4

1989

2,182

3.4

19,318

10.5

1990

2,317

3.6

21,123

11.4

1991

2,605

4.1

22,095

11.8

1992

2,592

4.0

21,168

11.1

1993

2,883**

4.3

21,647**

11.4**

1994

2,695**

4.0

20,615**

10.7**

1995

2,652

3.9

18,948**

9.8**

1996

2,427**

3.5

17,223*

8.8*

1997

2,087*

3.0*

16,122*

8.1*

Snyder, H. and Finnegan, T. (1998).  Easy Access to the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Reports:  1980-1997.  National Center for Juvenile Justice.  Rates calculated by CCRC.

Homicide is one of the five leading causes of juvenile mortality.

Leading Causes of Death

Causes

of Death

in Rank

Order

Ages 1 - 4

Ages 5 – 14

Ages 15 - 24

accidents*

accidents*

accidents*

birth defects

cancer

homicide

cancer

homicide

suicide

homicide

birth defects

cancer

heart disease

heart disease

heart disease

*motor vehicle and other

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics. 1997. Preliminary 1996 Data. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, 46(1).

http://www.cdc.gov/nchswww/SSBR/lc7-toc.htm

Finkelhor, D. (1997).  The homicide of children & youth: A developmental perspective.  In G. Kaufman Kantor & J. Jasinski (Eds.), Out of the Darkness: Contemporary Perspectives on Family Violence, (pp.17-34).  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Finkelhor, D. & Ormrod, R. (in press).  The homicides of children & youth.  Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Teenagers, children in middle childhood, and young children face different homicide perils.

Finkelhor, D. & Ormrod, R. (in press).  The homicides of children & youth.  Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Sexual Assault

Youths have higher rates of sexual assault victimization than adults.

A majority of sexual assaults reported to the police occur to juveniles.

Kilpatrick, D.C., Edmunds, C., Seymour, A. 1992. "Rape in America: A Report to the Nation" from "The National Women’s Study" sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Victim’s Center and National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. Washington, DC.

The rate of sexual assault of juveniles has declined since 1992.

Changes in Rates of Sexual Assault 1993-1997

Age

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

% Change 93-97

12 to 15

4.5

3.1

2.2

2.6

2.5

-44%

16 to 19

7.2

5.1

5.7

4.9

5.6

-22%

U.S. Department of Justice. 1997. Changes in Criminal Victimization 1994 – 1995

U.S. Department of Justice. 1997. Criminal Victimization 1996: Changes 1995 – 1996 with Trends 1993 – 1996.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cv96.htm

Finkelhor, D. 1994. Current Information on the Scope and Nature of Child Sexual Abuse. The Future of Children, 4(2):31-53. Center for the Future of Children, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Non-Family Abduction

Stereotypical stranger abductions of children are rare.

Teenage girls are the group at greatest risk for non-family abduction.

In police reports of abductions, juveniles are kidnapped as often by non-family acquaintances as by strangers.

Finkelhor, D., & Ormrod, R. (2000). Kidnapping of Juveniles: Patterns from NIBRS.  Washington, DC:  U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Assault

Juveniles are substantially more likely than adults to be assaulted.

Study

% Assaulted in Previous Year

National Crime Victimization Survey

8.0%

Monitoring the Future

25.8%

National Youth Survey

26.7%

National Youth Victimization Prevention Study

15.6%

Wells, L.E.,& Rankin, J .H. 1995. Juvenile Victimization: Convergent Validation of Alternative Measurements. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 32(3):287-307

Finkelhor, D. & Dziuba-Leatherman, J. 1994. Children as Victims of Violence: A National Survey. Pediatrics, 94(4):413-420.

Robbery and Theft [Property Crime]

Youth are substantially more likely to be robbed or have property stolen than adults.

School is the most common location for juvenile property victimizations.

Juvenile property crimes are different from adult property crimes.

Few juvenile property crime victimizations get reported to police.

Property crime rated are declining.

Finkelhor, D. and Ormrod, R. (2000). Juvenile Victims of Property Crimes.  Durham, NH: Crimes against Children Research Center.

Child Maltreatment, Child Abuse and Neglect

Note: Child maltreatment statistics are generally confined to episodes involving offenders who are relatives and caretakers. This excludes physical and sexual assaults by peers, adult acquaintances, or strangers.

Large numbers of children are abused and neglected.

After growing dramatically between 1976 and 1992, rates of child maltreatment reports and substantiations have been at a plateau since 1992.

1976: 10

1977: 13

1978: 13

1979: 15

1980: 18

1981: 19

1982: 20

1983: 24

1984: 27

1985: 31

1986: 33

1987: 34

1988: 35

1989: 38

1990: 41

1991: 41

1992: 43

1993: 43

1994: 43

1995: 43

1996: 44

1997: 42 (nearly 3 million children)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Childrens Bureau. 1993 and 1999. Child Maltreatment (1993,1997): Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

Year

Number of Children

Rate per 1,000

1990

989,430

15

1991

966,000

15

1992

1,018,000

16

1993

1,009,000

15

1994

1,010,000

15

1995

1,025,000

15

1996

998,000

14

1997

1,074,000

15

1998

1,009,000 14

National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse. 1990 through 1997. Current Trends in Child Abuse Reporting and Fatalities: The results of the (1990-1998) Annual Fifty State Survey. Chicago, IL: National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse.

http://www.childabuse.org/50data97.html

The National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-3) showed child abuse had increased by 67% in 1993 compared to 1986.

Only a small proportion of child maltreatment victims are removed from their homes.

Child Physical Abuse

Approximately 192,000 cases of child physical abuse were substantiated in 1998.

Year

Estimated Number of Children

Rate per 1,000 children

1990

228,000

3.6

1991

235,000

3.6

1992

241,000

3.7

1993

241,000

3.6

1994

242,000

3.6

1995

244,000

3.6

1996

238,000

3.4

1997

235,000

3.4

CCRC projections based on estimates from, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Childrens Bureau. 1993 through 1996. Child Maltreatment (1993 - 1997): Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

Child Sexual Abuse

Approximately 101,000 cases of child sexual abuse were substantiated in 1998.

Child sexual abuse substantiations have declined in recent years.

National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse.  1999.  Current Trends in Child Abuse Reporting and Fatalities: The results of the 19988 Annual Fifty State Survey.  Chicago, IL:  National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse.

http://www.childabuse.org/50data97.html

Year

Estimated Number of Children

Rate per 1,000 children

1990

146,000

2.3

1991

149,000

2.3

1992

150,000

2.3

1993

147,000

2.2

1994

140,000

2.1

1995

128,000

1.9

1996

124,000

1.8

1997

117,000

1.7

CCRC projections based on estimates from, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Childrens Bureau. 1992 through 1996. Child Maltreatment (1992 - 1999): Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cb/

Child Neglect

Approximately 569,000 cases of child neglect were substantiated in 1997.

National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse. 1998. Current Trends in Child Abuse Reporting and Fatalities: The results of the 1997 Annual Fifty State Survey. Chicago, IL: National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse.

http://www.childabuse.org/50data97.html

1990: 7.6

1991: 7.7

1992: 7.7

1993: 6.8

1994: 7.8

1995: 7.5

1996: 7.2

1997: 7.5

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Childrens Bureau. 1992 through 1997. Child Maltreatment (1992 - 1997): Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cb/

Family Abduction

Little current data is available on family abduction.

Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., & Sedlak, A. 1990. Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children in America. First Report: Numbers and Characteristics. Washington, DC: Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse.

Exposure to Domestic Violence

Many children witness violence in their homes.

Straus, M. & Smith, C. 1990. Family patterns and child abuse. In, M.A. Straus & R.J. Gelles (Eds.), Physical Violence in American Families: Risk factors and adaptations to violence in 8, 145 families (245-261). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press.

Finkelhor., D. 1991. National Youth Victimization Prevention Survey.

Fantuzzo, J., et al. 1997. Domestic violence and children: Prevalence and risk in five major U.S. cities. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36(1):116-122.

School Assaults

A majority of violent victimizations to juveniles occur outside of school, while a majority of thefts occur in school.

In-School Compared to Out-of-School Victimizations, 1997

Type of Crime

In School

Out of School

Serious Violent*

202,000 (24%)

636,000 (76%)

Violent**

1,055,000 (40%)

1,556,000 (60%)

Theft

1,666,000 (52%)

1,552,000 (48%)

Total

2,721,000 (47%)

3,107,000 (53%)

* serious violent = sexual assault, rape, robbery or aggravated assault

**violent = serious violent and simple assault

The victimization rate for crime in school declined from 1993 to1997 .

National Center for Educational Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics. 1999. Indicators of School Crime and Safety 1999. http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=98251

In-school homicides are rare.

1999 Annual Report on School Safety.  U.S. Department of Education and Justice.

Donahue, E; Schiraldi,V. & Macallair, D. 1998. School House Hype: The School Shootings and the Real Risks Kids face in America. Justice Policy Institute.

http://www.cjcj.org/jpi/schoolhouse.html

Most schools have no serious violence in a typical year.

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 1998. Violence and Discipline Problems in U.S. Public schools 1996-1997.

http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=98030

There has been little change in school victimization rates.

Victimization rates for high school seniors changed little between 1976 and 1996.

Other Rates of Victimization for a One Year Period

 

1976

1996

Injured with a weapon

5.5%

4.8%

Injured without a weapon

13.3%

11.7%

Threatened with a weapon

12.4%

13.3%

Threatened without a weapon

21.1%

21.6%

Property damaged

25.7%

26.0%

Property stolen

38.3%

40.7%

National Center for Education Statistics. 1998. The Condition of Education 1998.

http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=98013

Data from the Monitoring the Future Study.

http://www.isr.umich.edu/src/mtf/index.html

However, fear of victimization in school has increased.

U.S. Department of Justice. 1998. Students Reports of School Crime: 1989-1995. From 1995 School Crime Supplement to the NCVS. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/srsc.htm

Also, bullying is a problem in many schools.

National Center for Educational Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics. 1998. Indicators of School Crime and Safety 1998. http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=98251

Hodges, E.V. & Perry, P. 1996. Victims of Peer Abuse. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 5(1), 23-28

 

Fact sheet prepared by Kathy Kopiec with assistance from David Finkelhor, Richard Ormrod, and Kelly Foster. Edited by Janis Wolak.