More than 70 million Americansabout 1 in 4are younger than 18, the age group commonly referred to as juveniles. This age group has increased consistently since the mid-1980s and is projected to continue increasing until at least 2060. However, different segments of the juvenile population will increase at different rates. As the at-risk population changes, the juvenile justice system will likewise change. This section provides basic statistics necessary to understand these population changes.
Changes in population, though, make up only part of the picture. Social changes caused by moving populations, changing economic conditions, and changing social climate (i.e., education, health care, etc.) will also have an impact on delinquency and the juvenile justice system. This section provides additional information on these and other issues to motivate and develop a more complete understanding of delinquency and the problems facing youth. Delinquency, risk behaviors, and desistance take place within a larger social context.
This section provides demographic data on the juvenile population overall, including age, race, and sex, at the national and state levels. It describes important social indicators such as living arrangements, poverty, education, and teen-age birth rates. Much of the information comes from Census Bureau efforts. Other data sources include the National Center for Health Statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics, and other federal statistical agencies.
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