CCJS Publishes Major Study on Prevalence of Youth Arrests
3 January, 2012
Dr. Raymond Paternoster, a professor in the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice (CCJS), along with a group of other experts, has published a major new study on the prevalence of youth arrests - estimating the proportion of youth between the ages of 8 and 23 years who have been arrested or taken into custody.
By analyzing data collected from self-reporting youths between 1997 and 2008, the researchers were able to conclude that the prevalence of arrest for American youth (particularly in the period of late adolescence and early adulthood) has increased substantially since the late 1990's. The study leads researchers to believe that being arrested for criminal activity signifies an increased risk for an unhealthy lifestyle, involvement in violent acts, and the likeliehood of violent victimization. It is the hope of the publishing experts that this insight may be used to improve early assesments, interventions and prevention initiatives.
The study summary below was published in Pediatrics (January 2012 in print, December 19 online):
Cumulative Prevalence of Arrest From Ages 8 to 23 in a National Sample
Raymond Paternoster, PhD, Robert Brame, PhD, Michael G. Turner, PhD, and Shawn D. Bushway, PhD
OBJECTIVE: To estimate the cumulative proportion of youth who self-report having been arrested or taken into custody for illegal or delinquent offenses (excluding arrests for minor traffic violations) from ages 8 to 23 years.
METHODS: Self-reported arrest history data (excluding arrests for minor traffic violations) from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (N = 7335) were examined from 1997 to 2008.
RESULTS: By age 18, the in-sample cumulative arrest prevalence rate lies between 15.9% and 26.8%; at age 23, it lies between 25.3% and 41.4%. These bounds make no assumptions at all about missing cases. If we assume that the missing cases are at least as likely to have been arrested as the observed cases, the in-sample age-23 prevalence rate must lie between 30.2% and 41.4%. The greatest growth in the cumulative prevalence of arrest occurs during late adolescence and the period of early or emerging adulthood.
CONCLUSIONS: Since the last nationally defensible estimate based on data from 1965, the cumulative prevalence of arrest for American youth (particularly in the period of late adolescence and early adulthood) has increased substantially. At a minimum, being arrested for criminal activity signifies increased risk of unhealthy lifestyle, violence involvement, and violent victimization. Incorporating this insight into regular clinical assessment could yield significant benefits for patients and the larger community.
Since its release, the study has received wide-spread media attention. Dr. Paternoster and his colleagues have been interviewed by the Charlotte Observer, New York Times, New York Daily Post, USA TODAY, Time magazine, NBC News, Rolling Stone, the Daily Mail (United Kingdom), Huffington Post, Toronto’s Sun News Network and WRDU. To date, nearly 200 news articles have been written about the study.