The juvenile justice systems is facing unprecedented challenges. In response, the system is changing. The architects of this change, the policymakers at the Federal and State levels and the practitioners in the field, need the most current and reliable information on juvenile crime and violence as they work to improve and adapt policies and programs.

Three years ago, in response to this need for quality information, OJJDP funded the National Center for Juvenile Justice to produce the first comprehensive report on juvenile justice statistics. This report, Juvenile Offenders and Victims: A National Report, has become a landmark in the field. It is found in the offices of Federal and State legislators, in the offices of State and local juvenile justice agency administrators, in the recommended readings for university courses, and on the bookshelves of print and electronic journalists. This report and its 1996 Update on Violence have given a face to juvenile crime and the juvenile justice system in the United States.

The latest report in the series provides readers with convincing information that the wave of violence by juveniles that the United States has experienced in the last ten years may be subsiding. The most recent victimization data, for example, find that serious violent crimes by juveniles dropped 25% between 1994 and 1995. The most recent FBI data also report substantial declines in juvenile arrests for violent crimes. Most encouraging is the nearly 20% decline in murders by juveniles between 1993 and 1995.

This is not to say that we have solved the problem of juvenile crime. The current levels, though not below those of recent years, are not acceptable. Further, the statistics continue to show high rates of victimization of juveniles. These and other forces that drove the decade-long increases in juvenile violence are still with us, even though we may be more able to counteract them.

This report contains the raw information needed to address the problems of juvenile crime and victimization. I hope all those concerned about meeting the needs of youth in this Nation will find the time to read and study this report and incorporate its findings into their deliberations.

Shay Bilchik

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Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1997 Update on Violence