Reporting Crimes Against Juveniles

U.S. Justice Department, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)

Violent crimes against juveniles are less likely to be reported to police than those against adults, according to a new Bulletin from OJJDP. The Bulletin’s data, provided by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), show that 28 percent of juveniles report crimes committed against them to police, compared with 48 percent of adults. When broken down by type of crime, including robbery, rape/sexual assault and other kinds of assault, rates of reporting crimes against juveniles are far lower than those against adults for all violent crimes except sexual assault – for which reporting is low for both juveniles and adults.

Reasons offered by juveniles for low rates of reporting include: resistance to involving adults (sometimes out of fear of being blamed for the crime) and a societal tendency to view non-sexual assault on juveniles not as crimes but as scuffling or child maltreatment. Reasons offered by both juveniles and adults included: fear of retaliation by offender, previous reporting of the crime to another official, perception of the crime as a private matter, and perception of the incident as minor, especially if it was unsuccessful.

Administered by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the NCVS is a random survey of juveniles ages 12-17 and of adults, covering approximately 100,000 individuals and 55,000 households. Analysis of the survey was provided by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. Eight pages. Free. Contact: (800) 638-8736. Report code: NCJ 178887.

– Amy Bracken



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