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Prevalence and Development of Child Delinquency

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2003
8 pages
Publication Series
This document discusses risk and protective factors for very young offenders.
A study was conducted to determine the prevalence of child delinquency, information about the types of delinquents acts committed, and how the juvenile justice system deals with child delinquency. Two sources of data were used: official reports on juvenile arrest and case processing and self-report data gathered from children and young adolescents. The study focused on three categories of children: (1) serious child delinquents that committed homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, rape, or serious arson; (2) other child delinquents (excluding serious delinquents); and (3) children showing persistent disruptive behavior, such as truancy and incorrigibility, that were at risk of offending. Results show that official information on child delinquency was corroborated by self-reports of delinquent behavior. Although the majority of children had limited involvement in delinquency (1 to 5 years), a large proportion of children were involved in delinquency during childhood and often began offending early. The number of child delinquents entering the juvenile justice system is increasing and may be reaching critical mass in some communities. It is uncertain whether this is because of changes in children’s behavior, in families, in society, or in prosecution practices. Prevention and intervention programs targeting this young age group may benefit these children. These programs could yield significant benefits including reducing the overall level of crime in a community and improving the overall well being of families, children, and youth in a community. 3 figures, 1 table, 3 references

Date Published: March 1, 2003