LA County Officials lead by Sheriff Lee Baca announced last week that crime rates in Los Angeles County fell by more than four percent in 2011, with cities like Compton seeing a 40% reduction in homicides over the last few years. Sheriff Baca credited citywide initiatives like education-based prison programs and improved police networking for the decrease. According to a new report, however, Los Angeles County’s youth homicide rate is the 10th highest in the state when compared to other counties. This and other findings are detailed in the Violence Policy Center’s (VPC) report, “Lost Youth: A County-by-County Analysis of 2010 California Homicide Victims Ages 10 to 24.” The VPC study found that homicide continues to be the second leading cause of death for California’s youth, although there was an overall decrease in the homicide rate. In 2009 the youth homicide rate was 10.48 youth per 100,000, but dropped to 8.48 per 100,000 in 2010. For the second year in a row, Monterey County led the state in youth homicide with 24.36 homicides per 100,000 youth in 2010. The report also found that compared to Whites, Black youth homicide rates are twenty-two times higher and Latino homicide incidents are five times greater. For cases in which it could be documented, the report found 50% of Black and Latino youth killed were murdered by a stranger. The VPC found that young men are at far higher risk of homicide than their female counterparts. Eighty-nine percent of all young people killed in the state are male. The report concludes that firearms are the weapon of choice for most youth homicides, and recommends “[e]ffective violence preventing strategies must include measures that prioritize preventing youth and young adults from accessing firearms, especially handguns.”
GUESTS: Josh Sugarmann Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center, co-author of the report Lost Youth; Billie P. Weiss, Department of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public Health
Visit www.vpc.org for more information and to download the report.