For Release: Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Annual Study Compares Rates of Homicide Victimization for Californians Ages 10 to 24 by County, Race, Ethnicity, Weapon Used, Circumstance, and Location
WASHINGTON, DC–Monterey County’s young people suffer a murder rate that leads all California counties and is nearly three times the overall state rate for the same age range, according to “Lost Youth: A County-by-County Analysis of 2010 California Homicide Victims Ages 10 to 24,” a study analyzing unpublished California Department of Justice Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). The study, available at vpc.org/studies/cayouth2012.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 second year that the VPC has released the study and the second year that Monterey County has led the rankings. While for 2010 Monterey maintained its top ranking compared to other California counties, the county’s homicide victimization rate for this age group dropped from 31.24 per 100,000 in 2009 to 24.36 per 100,000 in 2010.
Statewide, the homicide victimization rate for Californians ages 10 to 24 dropped from 10.48 per 100,000 in 2009 to 8.48 per 100,000 in 2010. The appendix from the study comparing California counties’ 2009 rankings to their 2010 rankings can be found separately at vpc.org/studies/cayouth2012ap4.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 disparities between groups: in California, young African-Americans are more than 22 times more likely to be murdered than young whites; young Hispanics are more than five times more likely to be murdered than young whites.
Josh Sugarmann, VPC executive director and study co-author states, “The homicide rates for youth and young adults across California show the urgent need for effective violence-prevention strategies that stress tailored, localized approaches that engage local leaders and community stakeholders.”
TOP 10 COUNTIES BY YOUTH HOMICIDE VICTIMIZATION RATE
The top 10 counties with each county’s corresponding homicide victimization rate for its population of Californians ages 10 to 24 are:
1) Monterey County, 24.36 per 100,000
2) Alameda County, 18.41 per 100,000
3) San Joaquin County, 18.36 per 100,000
4) Tulare County, 18.06 per 100,000
5) Merced County, 13.44 per 100,000
6) Contra Costa County, 12.94 per 100,000
7) Fresno County, 11.61 per 100,000
8) San Francisco County, 11.52 per 100,000
9) Madera County, 11.39 per 100,000
10) Los Angeles County, 11.35 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 99 percent of homicide victims ages 10 to 24 in California and 98 percent of California’s population ages 10 to 24 for 2010.)
BACKGROUND FOR MEDIA
The study’s statewide findings include more detailed information, broken down by a number of factors.
GENDER, RACE, and ETHNICITY
Out of the 680 homicide victims ages 10 to 24 in California in 2010:
–89% were male and 11% were female.
–53% were Hispanic, 34% black, 7% white, 4% Asian, and one percent were “other.”
Overall, black victims were killed at a rate more than 22 times higher than white victims. Hispanic victims were killed at a rate more than five times higher than white victims. Asian victims were killed at roughly one and a half times the rate of white victims.
Firearms, especially handguns, were the most common weapon used to murder youth and young adults. Of the 668 homicides for which the murder weapon could be identified, 87 percent of victims died by gunfire. Of these, 76 percent were killed with handguns.
For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 50 percent were killed by a stranger. Thirty-two percent were killed by someone they knew. An additional 19 percent were identified as gang members. Black and Hispanic victims were more likely to be killed by a stranger than white or Asian victims.
The overwhelming majority of homicides of youth and young adults were not related to any other felony crime. For the 500 homicides in which the circumstances between the victim and offender could be identified, 83 percent were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 64 percent were gang-related.
For all races, the most common homicide location was a street, sidewalk, or parking lot. Among youth and young adults for homicides in which the location could be determined, 54 percent occurred on a street, sidewalk, or in a parking lot. Fourteen percent occurred in the home of the victim or offender. Twelve percent occurred at another residence, and nine percent occurred in a vehicle.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The study concludes 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 states 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.”