J. Robert Flores, AdministratorMarch 2003

A Message from OJJDP

As noted in this Bulletin, an increasing number of very young offenders, those between the ages of 7 and 12, are becoming involved with the juvenile justice system. According to the latest statistics, children younger than 13 are involved in almost 1 in 10 juvenile arrests. These youth account for more than one-third of juvenile arrests for arson and nearly one-fifth of juvenile arrests for sex offenses and vandalism.

Compared with juveniles who become involved in delinquency in adolescence, very young delinquents are at greater risk of becoming serious, violent, and chronic offenders. They are also more likely than older delinquents to continue their delinquency for extended periods of time. Consequently, over their lifetimes, these offenders may pose a disproportionate threat to persons and property. In addition, these offenders have the potential to place significant demands on the funds and resources of educational, justice, and social services agencies.

The good news is that prevention and intervention efforts focused on very young offenders could yield significant benefits. For these benefits to be realized, however, the unique challenges posed by these offenders must be addressed before their delinquency escalates.

Prevalence and Development of Child Delinquency

Howard N. Snyder, Rachele C. Espiritu, David Huizinga, Rolf Loeber, and David Petechuk


Official Records on Children in the Juvenile Justice System

Self-Report Data

Developmental Aspects of Child Delinquency




This Bulletin was prepared under grant number 95JDFX0018 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice.

Points of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of OJJDP or the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office for Victims of Crime.

NCJ 193411

Howard N. Snyder, Ph.D., is Director of Systems Research at the National Center for Juvenile Justice. Rachele C. Espiritu, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Associate at EMT Associates in Folsom, CA. David Huizinga, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, and Director of the Denver Youth Survey. Rolf Loeber, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, PA; Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, Free University, Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Director of the Pittsburgh Youth Study. David Petechuk is a freelance health sciences writer.

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