Juvenile Population CharacteristicsHighlights

Juveniles in the U.S. today live in a world very different from that of their parents or grandparents. Problems experienced by children at the turn of the century are the products of multiple and sometimes complex causes. Data presented in this chapter indicate that in many ways conditions have improved in recent years, but only marginally. For example, the proportion of juveniles living in poverty has declined recently, but juveniles are still far more likely to live in poverty today than 20 years ago. Similarly, teenage birth rates have declined in recent years but still remain high. Fewer children are being raised in two-parent families. Although high school dropout rates have fallen for most juveniles, the rates are still too high, especially in an employment market where unskilled labor is needed less and less.

This chapter presents a brief overview of some of the more commonly requested demographic, economic, and sociological statistics on juveniles. These statistics pertain to factors that are directly or indirectly associated with juvenile crime and victimization. Although these factors may be correlated with juvenile crime and/or victimization, they may not be the immediate cause and may be linked to the causal factor. The sections summarize demographic, poverty, and living arrangement data developed by the U.S. Census Bureau, birth statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics, and education data from the National Center for Education Statistics.