This depressing graph comes from a Northeastern University report released today, which as the Wall Street Journal explains, shows a marked increase in the number of African-American teens who were the victims of violent crime:
Murders of African-American teenagers have risen 39% since 2000 and 2001, according to a report due out Monday.
Homicides in which blacks ages 14 to 17 years old were the victims rose to 927 over the two-year period of 2006-07, the last years for which statistics are available, compared with 666 during 2000-01, according to the study by criminal-justice professors at Boston’s Northeastern University. The 39% increase is much greater than the rise in overall homicides, which jumped 7.4% from 2000-01 to 2006-07.
Murders rose among black teens in 2006 and 2007 as overall homicides dropped compared with the previous year. And the 2000-07 rate of increase among black teens was more than twice the rate of increase among white teens, the study found.
The authors of the report note that the risk of violence “spikes during after school hours — prime time for juvenile crime. The problem of course, is that budget cuts and new priorities have reduced state and federal funding for after-school programs and other measures aimed at taking kids off of the streets after school lets out. What’s more, the federal government has backed off from its support of community policing programs; in 2003 the federal government reduced funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which added tens of thousands of officers to local police departments. Furthermore, as the report mentions, “federal support for juvenile justice and prevention programs has been reduced by half.
Though, beyond all of this, I think the real issue is the fact that our inner cities are for the most part, bereft of meaningful economic opportunity and stable, healthy social structures: community, family, etc. Without these things, youth turn to gangs and other illegal activities to fulfill otherwise healthy desires for “status, excitement, power, praise, profit, protection, mentoring and opportunity for advancement.”
Of course, to any attempt to address these problems requires a constellation of programs and resources at all levels of government, and unfortunately, it’s not clear to me that anyone is really that interested in bringing anything to bear on our inner cities. But on the other hand, now that we have a president and an administration familiar with urban problems, maybe we’ll see some movement towards improving the economic and social conditions of the inner cities.
cross-posted from my blog