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Violence Essay, Research Paper

______________________________________________________________

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Database: Health Reference Center

Sent from SearchBank.

Library: Lehman College Library

______________________________________________________________

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Full content for this article includes illustration, table and graph.

Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Sept 1995 v149 n9

p953(8).

Title: Violent crime in the United States: an epidemiologic profile.

Author: Laura Rachuba, Bonita Stanton and Donna Howard

Abstract: Violent crime rates appear to have increased among youth while

declining or remaining stable among other age groups. Researchers used data

from several nationwide databases to track trends in crime from the early

1970s through 1992. Overall violent crime increased by 81% with a twofold

increase in aggravated assault, while murder rates varied little. According to

another database, violent crime rates remained stable. All databases showed

marked increases in violent crime rates in youths and young adults. Blacks

were disproportionately affected. For example, the homicide rate among

black

males aged 15 to 24 was more than nine times the rate among white males.

Particularly concerning was the increase in murders among children aged 10

to

14, which went up 93%. Guns were involved in over 60% of the murders, and

the

greatest rate of increase in murders involving guns was in children aged 10 to

14.

Author’s Abstract: COPYRIGHT American Medical Association 1995

Objectives: To determine if (1) there was an increase in the rates of acts of

violence in the United States from 1973 to 1992 and (2) there were

disproportionate changes in rates of violent crime among specific

demographic

groups. Methods: Crime data from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program

and the

National Crime Victimization Survey beginning in January 1973 and ending

in

December 1992 were examined. Homicide data from 1970 to 1991 were

examined

with the National Center for Health Statistics mortality data from the Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention. Analyses were performed for overall

crime

rates as well as for specific demographic groups. Results: Rates of

victimization from all types of violent crime have increased among

adolescents

and young adults (from ages 10 through 25 years), regardless of gender or

race. Absolute rates were highest among African Americans and males. Both

the

highest rates and the greatest increases in homicide from 1971 to 1990 were

among adolescents and young adults, while rates for those aged 25 years and

older decreased. A substantial increase in firearm-related homicides among

adolescents and young adults occurred as well, with rates decreasing for

those

aged 25 years and older. Overall rates of homicide have remained relatively

constant during the past two decades. Data addressing overall trends in the

rates of nonfatal violence during the past 20 years are inconclusive.

Conclusions: Adolescents are now experiencing the highest and most rapidly

increasing rates of lethal and non-lethal violence. The increase in violence

among youths 10 to 14 years of age is especially important and alarming. The

concentration of violence among children and adolescents has important

intervention implications. Because adolescence is a time of great

developmental changes, approaches to understanding and preventing violence

among our nation’s youths should incorporate a developmental perspective

that

also focuses on the relationship and interactions between individuals and

their environments, at the family, community, and societal levels. (Arch

Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:953-960)

Subjects: Violent crimes – Demographic aspects

Violent deaths – Demographic aspects

Electronic Collection: A17477467

RN: A17477467

Full Text COPYRIGHT American Medical Association 1995

Editor’s Note: This article documents what so many of us knew from reading

newspapers, watching television, and directly working with teenagers.

Wouldn’t

it be wonderful if some of the Department of Defense initiatives and funds

were aimed at defending our youth?

Catherine D. DeAngelis, MD

IN THE PAST DECADE, the public media and law enforcement, public

health, and

medical professionals have expressed a growing concern regarding violence

in

the United States. The establishment of the Center for Injury Prevention and

Control within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the inclusion

of questions regarding violent behavior in several national surveys conducted

by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a substantial increase

in citations of “violence” in the medical literature provide evidence that

violence is now recognized as a public health issue. For example, the Index

Medicus (National Institutes of Health) listed 70 citations under “violence”

in 1970,[1] 127 in 1980,[2] 196 in 1990,[3] and 290 in 1993.[4] Despite

society’s increased focus on violence, epidemiologic characterization of the

problem remains imprecise, resulting in critical knowledge gaps as to the

definition of violence, changes in the rates and character of violence over

time, and factors associated with these changes.[5] In fact, even the widely

promulgated premise that violence is increasing has been challenged recently.

Critics argue that sensationalistic reporting of crime statistics is

responsible for this misperception.[6]

Multiple factors regarding the study of violence contribute to this imprecise

epidemiologic characterization. The study of violence as a public health issue

is a relatively new perspective compared with its study as a criminal issue.

As such, the violent act itself (as opposed to the mental and physical health

outcomes of violence) has historically been the focus of interest in studies

of violence. Indeed, except for homicide, the majority of national databases

that provide violence surveillance (eg, the Uniform Crime Report and the

National Crime Victimization Survey) do not characterize the health outcome

of

the violent act. Given the judicial perspective of the agencies sponsoring

such databases, an emphasis on the criminal nature of the violent action is,

of course, logical.

As a corollary, given the traditional disinterest among health professionals

in violence research, most existing medical databases do not differentiate

between unintentional and intentional injuries. For example, the International

Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision,[7] the most widely used medical

nomenclature for diagnostic categories, identifies the medical injury (eg,

“penetrating wound to the abdomen”) but does not enable identification of the

mechanism of injury (eg, “gunshot wound”). Even the more precise

classification afforded by the External Cause of Injury codes[7] is used by a

few medical institutions.[8] Furthermore, in medical institutions in which

External Cause of Injury codes are used, sufficient cause-of-injury

information is not obtained from emergency providers, making the use of

these

codes difficult.[9] Similarly, the numerous immediate and long-term adverse

physical and mental health outcomes that result from the act of violence

remain poorly defined and poorly articulated. Given the interactive nature of

many acts of violence, such articulation and clarification will doubtless be a

complex process.

It is not possible to address all of the issues mentioned above in a single

article. Furthermore, many of these issues cannot be adequately examined

until

databases are expanded to include information on the acts and the outcomes.

However, existing data can be used to delineate some trends and to generate

hypotheses about relationships. In the present article, we propose to examine

whether evidence exists in the United States for (1) increased rates of acts

of violence over time and (2) a disproportionate change in the rates of acts

of violence among specific demographic groups.

RESULTS

OVERALL TEMPORAL TRENDS

Figure 1 depicts rates of violent crimes from 1973 to 1992 according to the

UCR Program data. The rate of overall violent crime increased 81%. The

largest

increase in rate (twofold) occurred for aggravated assault. The homicide rate

remained relatively consistent during a 20-year period, a finding that was

consistent with the N CHS mortality data.

The Victimization Survey data from 1973 to 1992 indicate that the rate of

violent crime fluctuated during the 20-year study interval but remained stable

overall (Figure 2). Although the Victimization Survey rates were higher than

the UCR Program rates for each type of violent crime during these years, both

data sets showed that the rate and number of violent crimes peaked in 1980,

subsequently declined, and began increasing again after 1989. For specific

types of crime, rates decreased for rape, robbery, and aggravated assault

while simple assault rates increased.

SUBANALYSES BY DEMOGRAPHIC VARIABLES

Age

The NCHS homicide data demonstrated that from 1970 to 199 1, youths aged

15 to

34 years experienced the highest rates of homicide (Figure 3). The largest

increase (220%) in homicide rates occurred for those aged 15 to 19 years,

followed by a 56% increase for those aged 20 to 24 years. A substantial

proportionate increase (47%) also occurred for youths aged 10 to 14 years,

although the absolute rates and increases were smaller than for the older

teens and young adults. Rates remained constant for those aged 30 to 34

years

and decreased for those aged 35 to 39 and 40 to 44 years.

The Victimization Survey data showed that fates of overall violent crime

increased from 1973 to 1992 for those aged 12 to 34 years, but remained the

same or decreased for those aged 35 years and older. Furthermore, rates were

highest among those aged 16 to 19 years. Robbery rates increased among

youths

aged 16 to 19 years (64%) and 25 to 34 years (40%), but decreased for those

aged 12 to 15 years and 35 years and older. Aggravated assault rates

increased

for those aged 12 to 15 years (32%) and 16 to 19 years (12%) but decreased

or

remained the same for those aged 20 years and older. Simple assault rates

increased for all age groups between 12 and 49 years, with the largest

increase among youths aged 12 to 15 years (58%). Rates decreased for those

aged 50 years and older.

Age by Gender

According to NCHS data from 1970 to 1991, an increase in the homicide rate

was

experienced by males aged 10 to 29 years and females aged 10 to 34 years

(Table 1 For males, the largest proportionate increase (93%) occurred for

youths aged 10 to 14 years, while the largest absolute increases were seen

among youths aged 15 to 19 years of age and those aged 20 to 24 years. For

females, the largest increase occurred among youths aged 15 to 19 years

(75%).

Increases in rates also occurred among those aged 10 to 14 years (44%), 20

to

24 years (32%), and 30 to 34 years (28%).

[TABULAR DATA 1 OMITTED]

According to the Victimization Survey data from 1973 to 1992, robbery rates

increased for males aged 16 to 19 years and 25 to 34 years and females aged

12

to 34 years. However, the largest proportionate increase (250%) occurred

among

females aged 16 to 19 years. Aggravated assault rates increased for males

aged

12 to 15 years (15%) and 60 years and older (50%). Female aggravated

assault

rates increased among those aged 12 to 19, 25 to 34, and 50 to 64 years, with

the largest increases experienced by persons aged 50 to 64 years (twofold)

and

12 to 15 years (80%). Rates remained the same or decreased for all other

groups. Among males, simple assault rates increased for those aged 12 to 24

years and decreased among those aged 25 years and older. Simple assault

rates

among females increased for all those younger than 50 years, with the largest

increase (90%) occurring among those aged 25 to 34 years. The highest rates

of

violent crime occurred among youths aged 12 to 24 years.

Age by Gender by Race

The age by gender by race comparison demonstrates the most striking

demographic differences in homicide rates (Table 1). According to the NCHS

data from 1970 to 1991, regardless of race, male homicide rates increased for

those aged 10 to 24 years. Homicide rates for white males increased for those

aged 10 to 34 years but remained constant among those aged 35 to 44 years.



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