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Age of Youth

Of all delinquency cases processed by the Nation's juvenile courts in 1996, 59% involved a juvenile younger than 16. These younger juveniles were involved in 64% of person offense cases, 62% of property offense cases, 54% of public order offense cases, and 42% of drug law violations. Compared with those of older juveniles (16 and older), the caseloads of younger juveniles involved a smaller proportion of drug law violations and public order offenses, but somewhat larger proportions of person offenses and property offenses (table 3).3

Table 3: Offense Profile of Delinquency Cases, by Age at Referral, 1996
 
 
Note: Detail may not total 100% because of rounding.

Delinquency case rates generally increase with the age of the juvenile (figure 2). For example, the delinquency case rate for 15-year-olds in 1996 was 36% higher than the rate for 14-year-olds. Similarly, the case rate for 16-year-olds was 18% greater than that for 15-year-olds. The case rate for 17-year-olds was an exception to this pattern, as it was 1% lower than the rate for 16-year-olds.

Figure 2: Delinquency Case Rates, by Age at Referral, 1996
 
Figure 2
 

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Offenders in Juvenile Court, 1996Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  July 1999