San Joaquin County Ranks #1 for Youth Homicide Victimization in California, New Study Reveals
Study Also Identifies Local Youth Violence Prevention Programs That are Working to Reduce California’s Youth Homicide Victimization Rate
WASHINGTON, DC--San Joaquin County’s young people suffer a murder rate that leads all other California counties according to “Lost Youth: A County-by-County Analysis of 2011 California Homicide Victims Ages 10 to 24,” an annual study analyzing unpublished California Department of Justice Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). The study, available at http://www.vpc.org/studies/cayouth2013.pdf and funded by The California Wellness Foundation, uses the most recent data available to rank California counties by their homicide victimization rates for youth and young adults ages 10 to 24. This is the third year that the study has been issued by the VPC and for the first time it includes a new “What Works” section detailing the need for prevention over “suppression” strategies in reducing youth violence and looking at three successful youth violence prevention programs in Salinas, Oakland, and Los Angeles as well as proposed federal initiatives such as the “Youth PROMISE Act.”
San Joaquin County’s homicide victimization rate for 10- to 24-year-olds of 21.29 per 100,000 was nearly three times the state’s overall rate of 7.87 per 100,000 for this age group. Monterey County, which had ranked first in youth homicide victimization in 2009 and 2010, dropped to third as the result of a significant and continuing decrease in its homicide rate for this age group: from 31.24 per 100,000 in 2009 to 16.96 per 100,000 in 2011. Second Chance Family and Youth Services, located in Salinas in Monterey County, is one of the three youth violence prevention programs detailed in the VPC report (the others are Los Angeles’ Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) Program and programs conducted by Oakland’s Youth Alive!).
Statewide, the homicide victimization rate for Californians ages 10 to 24 continued to drop--from 10.48 per 100,000 in 2009, to 8.48 per 100,000 in 2010, down to 7.87 per 100,000 in 2011. The appendix from the study comparing California counties’ 2009, 2010, and 2011 rankings can be found separately at http://www.vpc.org/studies/cayouth2013ap4.pdf.
The study finds overwhelmingly that firearms, usually handguns, are the weapon of choice in the homicides of youth and young adults. The study also shows that there are vast demographic disparities: in California, young African-Americans are more than 18 times more likely to be murdered than young whites; young Hispanics are more than four times more likely to be murdered than young whites.
Josh Sugarmann, VPC executive director and one of the study’s authors states, “Homicide rates for youth and young adults across California have shown a steady decline. Yet homicide, and gun homicide in particular, continues to exact an unacceptable toll on California youth. Effective violence-prevention strategies in California that stress tailored, localized approaches that engage local leaders and community stakeholders are leading the way in reducing this lethal toll. The strategies that are working to reduce youth violence in California can and should serve as a model for other states and the nation.”
TOP 10 COUNTIES
BY YOUTH HOMICIDE VICTIMIZATION RATE
1) San Joaquin County, 21.29 per 100,000
The study contains a detailed analysis for each of the top 10 counties, including: gender; race/ethnicity; most common weapons; victim to offender relationship; circumstance; and, location. (To help ensure more stable rates, only counties with a population of at least 25,000 youth and young adults between the ages of 10 to 24 were included in the study. The selected counties account for 98 percent of homicide victims ages 10 to 24 in California and 98 percent of California’s population ages 10 to 24 for 2011.) The study also contains a detailed analysis for each race/ethnicity.
RACE, and ETHNICITY
The study states that “homicide, and particularly gun homicide, continues to be one of the most pressing public health concerns in California among youth and young adults ages 10 to 24” and urges that “effective violence prevention strategies must include measures that prioritize preventing youth and young adults from accessing firearms, especially handguns.”
The study recommends further research into “the identification of the make, model, and caliber of weapons most preferred by this age group as well as analyses identifying the sources of the weapons” and an “expansion of comprehensive violence intervention and prevention strategies that include a focus on the psychological well-being of witnesses and survivors of gun violence.”
The study concludes that the “current ‘tough on crime’ mentality that, despite the wealth of research, continues to exercise control over too many policymakers is not only economically unsustainable it is also morally suspect. It is time to allow programs such as the examples detailed in this report a real opportunity to improve neighborhoods and change lives through a significant shift in resources, and in the way we think about violence.”
The annual study “Lost Youth: A County-by-County Analysis of 2011 California Homicide Victims Ages 10 to 24” is funded by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF). Created in 1992 as a private, independent foundation, TCWF’s mission is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention.