The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention recently released the latest, most comprehensive study of juvenile court statistics. The publication, Juvenile Court Statistics 2001 – 2002, analyzes more than 1.6 million delinquency cases from 2001 – 2002, and reviews trends in the juvenile court system since 1985. The data collected for this study comes from more than 2,000 courts across the country with a combined jurisdiction of 75 percent of the juvenile population in 2002. The report includes tables and statistics that may be helpful to practitioners in the field.
Overall, juvenile crime seems to have increased throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, peaking around 1997. Since then, the numbers have slowly been declining. However, since the statistics are only good through 2002, we continue to work without concrete knowledge of juvenile court statistics for the past five years. We all hope that the numbers will continue to show a decline, but hoping is not enough. Perhaps these statistics can help us all gauge where we have been in the past and help guide us to where we need to go in the future. If we continue to embrace crime prevention principles like creating safer schools for all students, promoting safer neighborhoods and communities, encouraging volunteerism among youth, and discouraging bullying and drug use, then perhaps we can ensure that juvenile crime will continue to drop.