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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on Law and Justice
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Panel on Juvenile Crime: Prevention, Treatment, and Control 

Project Scope

This study will review existing social science knowledge on the causes of delinquency and its prevention or control, including the role, operations, and impact of the juvenile justice system.

U.S. Department of Justice and Education
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Harry F. Guggenheim Foundation

Committee Membership
CHARLES F. WELLFORD (Chair), Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park
ROBERT F. BORUCH, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
LINDA B. COTTLER, Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine
ROBERT D. CRUTCHFIELD, Department of Sociology, University of Washington
JOEL L. HOROWITZ, Department of Economics, Northwestern University
ROBERT L. JOHNSON, Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, New Jersey Medical School
STEVEN D. LEVITT, Department of Economics, University of Chicago
TERRIE E. MOFFITT, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin
SUSAN A. MURPHY, Department of Statistics, University of Michigan
KAREN E. NORBERG, Department of Psychiatry, Boston University, and Center for Health Policy at Washington University, St. Louis
PETER REUTER, School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland
RICHARD ROSENFELD, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri-St. Louis
JOEL WALDFOGEL, Public Policy and Management Department, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
JAMES Q. WILSON, Department of Management and Public Policy (emeritus), University of California, Los Angeles
CHISTOPHER WINSHIP, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

JOHN V. PEPPER, Study Director
BRENDA McLAUGHLIN, Research Associate
MICHELE McGUIRE, Project Assistant
RALPH PATTERSON, Senior Project Assistant

Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice (2001)

 Juvenile Crime report cover




Even though youth crime rates have fallen since the mid-1990s, public fear and political rhetoric over the issue have heightened. The Columbine shootings and other sensational incidents add to the furor. Often overlooked are the underlying problems of child poverty, social disadvantage, and the pitfalls inherent to adolescent decisionmaking that contribute to youth crime. From a policy standpoint, adolescent offenders are caught in the crossfire between nurturance of youth and punishment of criminals, between rehabilitation and "get tough" pronouncements. In the midst of this emotional debate, the National Research Council's Panel on Juvenile Crime steps forward with an authoritative review of the best available data and analysis. Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice presents recommendations for addressing the many aspects of America's youth crime problem.

This timely release discusses patterns and trends in crimes by children and adolescents--trends revealed by arrest data, victim reports, and other sources; youth crime within general crime; and race and sex disparities. The book explores desistance--the probability that delinquency or criminal activities decrease with age--and evaluates different approaches to predicting future crime rates.

Why do young people turn to delinquency? Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice presents what we know and what we urgently need to find out about contributing factors, ranging from prenatal care, differences in temperament, and family influences to the role of peer relationships, the impact of the school policies toward delinquency, and the broader influences of the neighborhood and community. Equally important, this book examines a range of solutions:

  • Prevention and intervention efforts directed to individuals, peer groups, and families, as well as day care-, school- and community-based initiatives.
  • Intervention within the juvenile justice system.
  • Role of the police.
  • Processing and detention of youth offenders.
  • Transferring youths to the adult judicial system.
  • Residential placement of juveniles.

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