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Law Enforcement & Juvenile Crime
Juvenile Arrests
Q: What are the demographic characteristics of juvenile arrests?
A: Females accounted for 29% of the estimated 424,300 juvenile arrests in 2020, youth under age 15 also accounted for 29% of all juvenile arrests, and white youth accounted for 64%

Demographic characteristics of juvenile arrests, 2020

Most serious offense Number of
Female Under
age 15
White Black American
All offenses424,30029%29%64%32%3%1%
Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter9308%10%39%58%2%1%
Aggravated assault19,14026%29%57%38%3%1%
Motor vehicle theft11,66020%29%47%49%3%1%
Simple assault70,94038%38%62%34%2%1%
Forgery and counterfeiting47020%14%60%37%1%2%
Stolen property (buying, receiving, possessing)8,19016%21%32%65%2%1%
Weapons (carrying, possessing, etc.)11,1108%19%48%50%1%1%
Prostitution and commercialized vice11061%15%47%46%4%3%
Sex offenses (except rape & prostitution)NANANANANANANA
Drug abuse violations42,28025%15%74%23%2%1%
Offenses against the family and children2,42042%32%68%18%13%1%
Driving under the influence5,87026%2%88%7%4%2%
Liquor laws17,91041%12%86%6%7%1%
Disorderly conduct24,72037%40%58%38%4%1%
All other offenses (except traffic)85,97029%28%68%28%2%1%
Curfew and loitering11,68034%34%71%25%3%1%
Property Crime Index74,68029%29%56%40%2%2%
Violent crimes*32,07020%25%49%47%2%1%

Violent Crime Index includes murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Property Crime Index includes, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

NA: Beginning in 2013, the FBI broadened the definition of rape, removing the phrase “forcible” from the offense name and description. The new definition of rape is: Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. The new definition includes the NIBRS offenses of rape, sodomy, and sexual assault with an object.

Law enforcement agencies may submit data on rape arrests based on either the new or legacy definition of rape. Due to differences in agency reporting practices, national estimates for the offenses of “rape” and “sex offenses” are not available after 2012. Additionally, estimates for the Violent Crime Index (which included “forcible rape”) are not shown after 2012 as this category is no longer compatible with prior years.

*The violent crimes category includes the offenses of murder, robbery, and aggravated assault and is presented as an alternative to the Violent Crime Index, which is not available as a result of the change to the definition of rape in 2013. In any given year prior to the change in the rape definition, these three offenses accounted for more than 95% of arrests for Violent Crime Index offenses.

2020 was the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, which may have impacted policies, procedures, and data collection activities. Additionally, stay-at-home orders likely impacted the volume and type of law-violating behavior that came to the attention of law enforcement in 2020.

[ CSV file ]

  • In 2020, females accounted for 36% of all juvenile arrests for larceny-theft, 38% of all juvenile arrests for simple assault, and 37% of juvenile arrests for disorderly conduct.
  • Youth under age 15 accounted for 55% of all juvenile arrests for arson in 2020, 28% of juvenile arrests for simple assault and 40% of juvenile arrests for disorderly conduct.
  • White youth youth accounted for nearly half (49%) of juvenile arrests for violent crimes and more than half (56%) of juvenile arrests for Property Crime Index offenses.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/qa05104.asp?qaDate=2020. Released on July 08, 2022.

Data Source: Arrest estimates for 2020 were developed by the National Center for Juvenile Justice based on the FBI’s 2020 Arrest Master File of 12-month reporting departments available from the Crime Data Explorer (https://crime-data-explorer.fr.cloud.gov/pages/downloads, retrieved June 14, 2022).


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