The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is committed to improving the justice system's response to crimes against children. OJJDP recognizes that children are at increased risk for crime victimization. Not only are children the victims of many of the same crimes that victimize adults, they are subject to other crimes, like child abuse and neglect, that are specific to childhood. The impact of these crimes on young victims can be devastating, and the violent or sexual victimization of children can often lead to an intergenerational cycle of violence and abuse. The purpose of OJJDP's Crimes Against Children Series is to improve and expand the Nation's efforts to better serve child victims by presenting the latest information about child victimization, including analyses of crime victimization statistics, studies of child victims and their special needs, and descriptions of programs and approaches that address these needs.
Until recently, it has been difficult to obtain a national statistical picture of juvenile crime victimization. The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system, which has served as the Nation's primary source of information about crime since 1929, has never collected information or reported crimes by age of victim, with the exception of homicides. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the victim self-report survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics for the past 20 years, has collected data only on crimes occurring to persons 12 years of age or older. Consequently, even such a basic fact as the percentage of all violent crimes that are committed against juveniles (youth ages 17 and younger) has been unavailable.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) developing National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), however, does provide detailed statistical information about juvenile victims of reported crimes. As more jurisdictions begin to participate in NIBRS, the outlines of a national picture of juvenile crime victims are beginning to emerge. Even though NIBRS is far from a comprehensive national data system, the fact that only partial data were available previously makes it particularly useful to see what information about juvenile victims can be gleaned from this system.
An analysis of 1997 NIBRS data from jurisdictions in 12 States reveals some key findings: