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- Definition: Number of juvenile felony arrests among youth under age 18 (e.g., in 2015, there were 21,381 juvenile arrests for felony offences in California).
- Data Source: California Dept. of Justice, Arrest Data (Oct. 2016).
- Footnote: City data may not sum to county totals, as county totals also includes figures from college campuses, Department of Parks & Recreation, BART, Union Pacific Railroad, Sheriff's Department, and the California Highway Patrol. N/A means that data are not available.
- Measures of Juvenile Arrests on Kidsdata.org
This topic describes felony arrests for children and youth under age 18. Felony arrests, which are more serious than misdemeanors, tend to involve injury or substantial property loss. Felony crimes include violent offenses (homicide, rape, robbery, assault, and kidnapping), property offenses (burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, forgery, and arson), drug and alcohol offenses (narcotics, marijuana, other drugs, and driving under the influence), sex offenses, and other offenses (such as weapons offenses, hit-and-run, and vehicular manslaughter). Indicators on kidsdata.org include:
Note: Juvenile felony arrests data do not provide a full picture of youth criminal activity. These data do not include misdemeanor arrests, and the number of arrests can shift as a result of changes in the number of police on the streets, legislative or judicial action to increase or reduce penalties, or trends in prosecutors’ charging decisions. Many felony charges also are reduced to misdemeanors or are dismissed in later phases of the court process.
- Juvenile felony arrest rates per 1,000 youth ages 10-17 overall, by gender, and by race/ethnicity
- The number of felony arrests among children and youth under 18, by city and county
- The number and percentage of felony arrests among children and youth under 18, by gender, by race/ethnicity, and by type of offense
- Juvenile Arrests
- Bullying and Harassment at School
- Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Bullying/Harassment for Bias-Related Reason (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Disability as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Gender as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Race or National Origin as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Religion as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Sexual Orientation as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Other Non-Specified Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Cyberbullying (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Student Bullying/Harassment Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Children's Emotional Health
- Depression-Related Feelings (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Hospitalizations for Mental Health Issues, by Age Group
- Students Who Are Well-Behaved (Staff Reported)
- Student Depression or Mental Health Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- School Emphasizes Helping Students with Emotional and Behavioral Problems (Staff Reported)
- Youth Who Reported Needing Help for Emotional or Mental Health Problems
- Receipt of Mental Health Services Among Children Who Need Treatment or Counseling (Regions of 70,000 Residents or More)
- Community Connectedness
- Caring Adults in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- High Expectations from Adults in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Total Community Assets (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Disconnected Youth
- School Connectedness
- Caring Adults at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- High Expectations from Teachers and Others (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Total School Assets (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- School Connectedness (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Adults at School Believe in Student Success (Staff Reported)
- Caring Adults at School (Staff Reported)
- School Gives Students Opportunities to Make a Difference (Staff Reported)
- School Motivates Students to Learn (Staff Reported)
- Students Who Are Motivated to Learn (Staff Reported)
- Youth Development or Resilience Is Fostered at School (Staff Reported)
- Services for Substance Abuse, Violence, or Other Problems Are Provided at School (Staff Reported)
- School Safety
- Perceptions of School Safety (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Fear of Being Beaten Up at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Physical Fighting at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Carrying a Gun at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Carrying a Knife or Other Weapon at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Perceptions of School Safety for Students (Staff Reported)
- Perceptions of School Safety for Staff (Staff Reported)
- Student Physical Fighting Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Student Weapons Possession Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Gang Involvement
- Truancy, Suspensions & Expulsions
- Youth Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use
- Alcohol/Drug Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol/Drug Use on School Property in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- Binge Drinking in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Drinking and Driving or Riding with a Driver Who Has Been Drinking, by Grade Level
- Cigarette Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Cigarette Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- Marijuana Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Marijuana Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- Student Alcohol and Drug Use Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Substance Abuse Prevention Is an Important Goal at School (Staff Reported)
- Substance Use Prevention Education Is Provided at School (Staff Reported)
- Why This Topic Is Important
Youth who have contact with the juvenile justice system are at increased risk for a number of negative long-term outcomes—such as injury, substance use and dependency, dropping out of school, and early pregnancy—when compared with the general youth population (1, 2). Youth who have been detained also may face difficulty gaining the educational credentials they need to obtain sustained employment, and may be more likely to engage in criminal behavior as adults (3). Conditions that increase the likelihood of involvement with the juvenile justice system include family poverty, separation from family members including parental incarceration, a history of maltreatment, and exposure to violence in the home and community (2).
Additional risk factors for juvenile criminal activity are substance use or dependency, significant educational challenges, and mental illness (2, 4). Of the youth who enter California’s juvenile justice system, an estimated 30% have mental health issues (5). Youth who have been held in detention have higher rates of attempted suicide and psychiatric disorders than youth who have not been detained (3, 4, 6).For more information on juvenile arrests, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. PolicyforResults.org. (n.d.). Prevent juvenile delinquency. Retrieved from: http://www.policyforresults.org/youth/prevent-juvenile-delinquency
2. Nellis, A. (2012). The lives of juvenile lifers: Findings from a national survey. The Sentencing Project. Retrieved from: http://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/the-lives-of-juvenile-lifers-findings-from-a-national-survey
3. PolicyforResults.org. (n.d.). Reduce juvenile detention. Retrieved from: http://www.policyforresults.org/youth/reduce-juvenile-detention
4. Schubert, C. A., & Mulvey, E. P. (2014). Behavioral health problems, treatment, and outcomes in serious youthful offenders. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Retrieved from: http://www.ojjdp.gov/publications/PubAbstract.asp?pubi=264515
5. Legislative Analyst's Office. (2012). The 2012-2013 budget: Completing juvenile justice realignment. Retrieved from: http://www.lao.ca.gov/Publications/Detail/2562
6. Abram, K. M., et al. (2014). Suicidal thoughts and behaviors among detained youth. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Retrieved from: http://www.ojjdp.gov/publications/PubAbstract.asp?pubi=265968
- How Children Are Faring
California’s juvenile felony arrest rate declined by 73% between 1998 and 2015, from 19.6 arrests per 1,000 youth ages 10-17 to 5.3. Although all counties with data saw declines during this period, county-level rates vary widely; these ranged from 2.9 to 11.7 per 1,000 in 2015.
In 2015, 34% of juvenile felony arrests in California were for violent offenses, 31% for property offenses, 24% for other offenses (e.g., weapons, hit-and-run), 7% for drug and alcohol offenses, and 3% for sex offenses. Statewide, boys account for the vast majority of juvenile felony arrests—84% in 2015.
Among racial/ethnic groups with data, African American/black youth are arrested for felony offenses at higher rates than their peers in other groups—24 arrests per 1,000 youth in 2015, compared to 5 arrests per 1,000 Hispanic/Latino youth and 3 arrests per 1,000 white youth. In 2015, more than three-quarters of all juvenile felony arrests in California involved youth of color.
- Policy Implications
The juvenile justice system is responsible for protecting communities from crime and delinquency, holding youth offenders accountable, and rehabilitating them. Policymakers within the justice, education, and social services systems can play a role in improving the way society addresses juvenile crime. The process for adjudicating youth offenders often does not have the intended effect on crime control, and it does not consistently take into account the relative public safety risk or circumstances of individual youth (1).
Policy options that could reduce juvenile felonies include:
For more policy ideas on juvenile justice, visit the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under these topics: Truancy, Suspensions & Expulsions, High School Graduation, School Connectedness, and Gang Involvement.
- Improving systems of care to address the mental health needs of juvenile offenders, from initial screening or assessment at first contact with the juvenile justice system to provision of appropriate treatment to incarcerated youth (1)
- Addressing recidivism by reforming policies that increase the likelihood to re-offend, and providing services that decrease it, such as mentoring, behavioral programs, group counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and assistance in graduating high school (2, 3)
- Examining and improving existing policies for processing youth offenders through the juvenile justice system; policies should allow for case-specific assessment of an individual's circumstances, the severity of the offense, the public safety risk posed by the youth, and the potential effects of system processing (4)
Sources for this narrative:
1. Petrosino, A., et al. (2013). Formal system processing of juveniles: Effects on delinquency (Crime Prevention Research Review No. 9). U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Retrieved from: http://ric-zai-inc.com/ric.php?page=detail&id=COPS-P265
2. Redding, R. E. (2010). Juvenile transfer laws: An effective deterrent to delinquency? Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Retrieved from: http://www.ojjdp.gov/publications/PubAbstract.asp?pubi=242419
3. Seigle, E., et al. (2014). Core principles for reducing recidivism and improving other outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system. Council of State Governments Justice Center. Retrieved from: https://csgjusticecenter.org/youth/publications/juvenile-justice-white-paper
4. Legislative Analyst's Office. (2012). The 2012-2013 budget: Completing juvenile justice realignment. Retrieved from: http://www.lao.ca.gov/Publications/Detail/2562
- Websites with Related Information
- Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice
- CrimeSolutions.gov: Juveniles, National Institute of Justice
- Criminal Justice Statistics Center (CJSC) Publications, California Dept. of Justice
- Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Council for a Strong America
- Juvenile Justice Information Exchange
- National Center for Youth Law: Juvenile Justice
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Dept. of Justice
- PolicyforResults.org, Center for the Study of Social Policy
- Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth (UNITY), Prevention Institute
- Youth Crime and Justice Publications, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
- Youth First Initiative
- Youth.gov, Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs
- Key Reports and Research
- 2018 California Children's Report Card, Children Now
- An Impact Evaluation of Three Strategies Created to Reduce Disproportionate Minority Contact and the Detention Population, 2013, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Rodriguez, N., & Eell, E.
- Behavioral Health Problems, Treatment, and Outcomes in Serious Youthful Offenders, 2014, Juvenile Justice Bulletin, Schubert, C. A., & Mulvey, E. P.
- Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement, 2011, Council of State Governments Justice Center & Public Policy Research Institute, Fabelo, T., et al.
- Children’s Exposure to Violence and the Intersection Between Delinquency and Victimization, 2013, Juvenile Justice Bulletin, Cuevas, C. A., et al.
- Core Principles for Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System, 2014, Council of State Governments Justice Center, Seigle, E., et al.
- Juvenile Justice, 2008, The Future of Children
- Juvenile Justice in California, 2014, Public Policy Institute of California, Tafoya, S., & Hayes, J.
- Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2014 National Report, 2014, National Center for Juvenile Justice, Sickmund, M., & Puzzanchera, C. (Eds.)
- Predicting Recidivism Among Juvenile Delinquents: Comparison of Risk Factors for Male and Female Offenders, 2013, Journal of Juvenile Justice, Thompson, K. C., & Morris, R. J.
- Preventing Youth Violence: Opportunities for Action, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
- Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among Detained Youth, 2014, Juvenile Justice Bulletin, Abram, K. M., et al.
- The Lives of Juvenile Lifers: Findings from a National Survey, 2012, The Sentencing Project, Nellis, A.
- The Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) in the Lives of Juvenile Offenders, 2014, Journal of Juvenile Justice, Baglivio, M. T., et al.
- The School Discipline Consensus Report: Strategies from the Field to Keep Students Engaged in School and Out of the Juvenile Justice System, 2014, Council of State Governments Justice Center, Morgan, E., et al.
- County/Regional Reports
- 2014 Solano Children's Report Card, Children's Network of Solano County
- 2014 Youth Wellbeing Report Card, Santa Monica Cradle to Career
- 2017 Kern County Report Card, Kern County Network for Children
- County of San Mateo Adolescent Report 2014-15, San Mateo County Health System
- Fresno Community Scorecard
- Orange County Community Indicators Report, 2017, Orange County Community Indicators Project
- San Diego County Report Card on Children and Families, 2015, The Children's Initiative & Live Well San Diego
- The 23rd Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 2016, Orange County Children's Partnership
- More Data Sources For Juvenile Arrests
- Childstats.gov, Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics
- KIDS COUNT Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) Victimization Analysis Tool, Bureau of Justice Statistics
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