line National Estimates of Petitioned Status Offense Cases

Counts and Trends
Status offenses are acts that are illegal only because the person committing them is of juvenile status. In other words, adults cannot be arrested for status offenses. The four major status offense categories used in this Report are running away, truancy, ungovernability (also known as incorrigibility or being beyond the control of oneís parents), and underage liquor law violations (e.g., a minor in possession of alcohol, underage drinking).1

In 1995, U.S. courts with juvenile jurisdiction petitioned and formally disposed an estimated 146,400 status offense cases (table 49).2 This number was 77% more than the number of petitioned status offense cases handled in 1986. Petitioned truancy cases increased 80% between 1986 and 1995. The number of runaway offenses was 59% higher in 1995 than in 1986, status liquor offense cases increased 54%, and ungovernability cases increased 14%.

Table 49: Percent Change in Petitioned Status Offense Cases and Case Rates, 1986-1995

The Nationís juvenile courts processed 5.2 petitioned status offense cases for every 1,000 youth at risk of referral to juvenile court in 1995. The total case Table 50: Offense Profile of Petitioned Status Offense Cases, 1986, 1991, and 1995rate was 63% higher in 1995 than in 1986. The rate for truancy cases increased 65%, the runaway rate grew 46%, the rate for status liquor law violation cases increased 41%, and the rate for ungovernability cases was 5% higher than in 1986.

Truancy and status liquor law violations each accounted for one-quarter (26%) of formally handled status offense cases in 1995 (table 50). Runaway cases were 16% of the status offense caseload, ungovernability cases were 13%, and other miscellaneous status offenses accounted for 20%. This pattern of truancy and status liquor cases making up a greater share of status offense cases than runaway and ungovernable cases has been consistent back to 1986.


1 A number of other behaviors may be considered status offenses (e.g., curfew violations, tobacco offenses). All such offenses are combined within a "miscellaneous" category in this Report. Because of the heterogeneity of these offenses, these cases are not discussed independently. However, all totals include the "miscellaneous status offenses."

2 This Report presents analyses only of formally handled status offenses. See the Introduction to this Report for further explanation.


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line Juvenile Court Statistics 1995, May 1998