Juvenile Population Characteristics
Problems experienced by children today are the products of multiple and sometimes complex causes. Data presented in this chapter indicate that conditions for juveniles have improved in recent years in some areas, and not in others. For example, teenage birth rates have declined to historically low levels; however, the proportion of teen births to unmarried females continues to rise. Fewer children are being raised in two-parent families. The proportion of juveniles living in poverty has increased since the mid-2000s, returning to the relatively high levels of the early 1990s. Although high school dropout rates have fallen for most juvenile demographic groups, the rates are still too high, especially in an employment market where unskilled labor is needed less and less.
This chapter serves to document the status of the U.S. youth population on several indicators of child well-being and presents an overview of some of the more commonly requested demographic, economic, and sociological statistics on juveniles. These statistics pertain to factors that may be 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 but may be linked to the causal factor. The sections in this chapter 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.