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explaining in part the overall increase in violent crime seen in the UCR
Program data. The NCHS data, possibly the most reliable source of homicide
surveillance, are based on medical examiners’ judgments, which are subject to
error or bias as well.
FUTURE RESEARCH NEEDS
Health professionals concerned with adolescent violence have many questions
and few answers. Why are adolescents, independent of gender and race,
increasingly engaging in acts of violence? What are the consequences of early
involvement in acts of violence, as either the victim or the perpetrator? Why
are rates of violence higher among some adolescent demographic subgroups
others? Why are firearm-related homicides increasing among youths aged 10
24 years but decreasing for those aged 25 years and older?
In the late 1980s, the public health field recognized that the epidemic of the
acquired immunodeficiency syndrome had engulfed the adolescent
Therefore, new developmentally appropriate intervention approaches that
on those targeting adults were necessary.[41,49] Evidence exists that public
health research has responded to this challenge (B.S.; Nina Kim, Ma; Jennifer
Galbraith, MA; Maureen Parrott, MD; unpublished data, September 1994).
Likewise, it is time to recognize that the highest rates of violence and the
highest increases in violence are occurring not among adults but among
children. Researchers should draw on the substantial intervention and
developmental literature regarding adolescent risk behavior to incorporate
these data into national planning activities for primary, secondary, and
RELATIVE ARTICLE: MATERIALS AND METHODS
Crime data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (Victimization
Survey)[10-12] and the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program,
Janary 1973 and ending in December 1992, were examined. Homicides from
1991 were analyzed with the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
mortality data[14,15] from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Firearth-related homicides from 1979 to 1991 were also analyzed with the
mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Victimization Survey[10-12] data were obtained from a stratified,
multistage cluster sample of housing units. Housing units included family
households and group quarters, such as dormitories, rooming houses, and
religious group dwellings. A basic screening questionnaire and a crime
incident report were used to obtain victimization data. (For further
information on the survey method, see Sourcebook of Criminal Justice
Statistics–1993, Appendix 8.) Thus, the Victimization Survey addresses
crime from the perspective of the victim; homicide is not included in the
Victimization Survey, since this survey is based on self-report data.
Nationwide data on crimes are collected from individual law enforcement
agencies and tabulated by city, county, metropolitan statistical area,
demographic group, and geographic division. Statistics are published
annually, with a lag between incidence and reporting of about 6 months. The
UCR system collects basic information about the most serious crime
in a single event. Supplemental information about the circumstances of
homicides and characteristics of arrestees is also contained in this data set.
NCHS Mortality Data
These data are generated by the 50 states and the District of columbia.[14,15]
The statistics include age, gender, race, geographic data, and cause of death
coded according to the International Classification of diseases, Ninth
Revision. Data were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. Data on firearm-related homicides were obtained through CDC
WONDER/PC Version 2, the on-line computer software package from the
for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although no standard definition of violence exists, violence is defined in
this article as “behaviors by individuals that intentionally threaten,
attempt, or inflict physical harm on others.” This broad definition,
therefore, includes all acts of violent crime and is compatible with the
definitions used by the UCR Program and the Victimization Survey. Personal
crimes of violence include homicide, rape, robbery, and assault (both
aggravated and simple). Rates of personal crimes of violence include both
attempted and completed crimes (unless otherwise specified) and always
contact between the victim and the offender.
The following definitions are those used by the UCR Program and the
Victimization Survey. Assault is an unlawful physical attack or threat of
attack. Aggravated assault consists of an attack with a resultant serious
injury or an attack with a weapon regardless of whether an injury occurred.
Simple assault consists of an attack without a weapon. If there is a resultant
injury, it is minor or, if undetermined, requires less than 2 days of
hospitalization. The UCR Program data do not categorize simple assault as
violent crime. Homicide includes both murder and nonnegligent manslaughter
(the willful killing of one human being by another). Rape is defined as carnal
knowledge through the use of force or the threat of force, including attempts
(statutory rape is excluded). The UCR Program data include only
of females. Robbery is defined as completed or attempted theft, directly from
a person, of property or cash by force or threat of force, with or without a
Analyses focused on two specific questions: (1) Is there evidence for
increased rates of acts of violence? (2) Is there evidence that a specific
demographic group is experiencing this increase disproportionate to the
general population? Given the exploratory nature of these analyses, specific
hypotheses were not articulated. Rather, each of the data sources described
above was explored for data relevant to these questions. Violent crime data
were examined overall and by specific sociodemographic variables. Trend
were available for all analyses of violent crime except age by gender by race.
For this three-way analysis, 1992 data were used. It was anticipated that
these analyses would lead to the formulation of hypotheses that could be
empirically tested in subsequent research as well as enable targeting of
subsequent intervention efforts.
[Figure 1 to 4 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
Accepted for publication January 30, 1995.
Reprint requests to Center for Minority Health Research, University of
Maryland, 712 W Lombard St, Baltimore, MD 21201 (Ms Rachuba).
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From the Center for Minority Health Research, University of Maryland,
Baltimore (Ms Rachuba and Drs Stanton and Howard); and Division of
Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland Medical School,
Baltimore (Dr Stanton).
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