Fewer Young People Are Getting Killed in America

PHOTO: Young women watch as police prepare to remove the remains of their friend after he was shot and killed on June 22, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The homicide rate for young people reached a 30-year-low in 2010.

According to new numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday, the number of young people killed dropped across all races and ethnicities for ages 10 to 24.

The homicide rate for that group, which has slowly declined since the mid-90s, was 7.5 deaths per 100,000 people. Most of those were shootings. And while the decline is good news, it's worth noting that firearm-related deaths haven't dropped as fast as other types of homicides.

Car crashes and suicide lead to most deaths in this age group. Homicide comes in a disturbing third.

The report's authors were quick to note, however, that in spite of the overall decrease, "some adolescents and young adults remain disproportionately affected, and more recent declines in rates have been slower for those at increased risk for homicide."

Those increased risks tend to fall disproportionately on minorities and males. The homicide rate among black young people is nearly four times the average, at 28.8 homicides per 100,000 people. It's about average for Hispanics at 7.9 homicides per 100,000, and well below average for white young people, at just 2.1 homicides per 100,000.

No one is entirely sure what has caused the drop, but it's probably a number of factors that have built up over time.

Schools are teaching students about conflict resolution, and many nonprofit organizations and churches are working with at-risk youth in violence-plagued neighborhoods like Chicago's South Side and East Los Angeles. Efforts to rehabilitate young people instead of simply punishing them for misdeeds have also increased, as have targeted attempts to identify and limit gang violence.

But there is more that communities and families can do, the report says. Schools can work on teaching children how to communicate positively. Families can keep track of who their children are spending time with and what activities they engage in. Broader policies and community efforts to revitalize poverty-stricken neighborhoods, which are more likely to be plagued by violence, help too.

"[P]rogress has been made in reducing homicide in these populations," the report states, "but progress is slowing, and primary prevention of violence in these populations needs continued emphasis."

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