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07/11/2013

In America, youth homicides hit a 30-year low

Youngwomen
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

In the United States, homicide has stubbornly remained one of the top three killers of young people between the ages of 10 and 24.

In 2010, more than 4,800 young Americans from this age group were murdered -- an average of 13 homicides per day. These murders, in addition to destroying families and young lives, also cost the U.S. economy an estimated $9 billion in lost productivity and medical costs.

But believe or not, there is some good news hidden in this grim statistic, according to a new report today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: in 2010, the homicide rate for this age group was actually the lowest it's been in 30 years.

Following a spate of murders between 1985 and 1993 (homicide rates increased by 83 per cent during this time), the numbers started trending down in 1994, which saw a murder rate of 15.2 per 100,000. By 1999, it dropped to 8.9, a decrease of 41 per cent, and in 2010, rates reached a 30-year low of 7.5 per 100,000.

The report notes, however, that the decline has been slowing since 1999 and between 2000 and 2010, the homicide rate dropped at an average rate of about 1 per cent per year.

Firearm deaths also continue to be a major problem and between 1980 and 2010, nearly 80 per cent of murdered Americans between 10 and 24 were killed by a gun.

Firearmdeaths

Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, July 12, 2013, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Young black men between 20 and 24 also remain the highest-risk group. In 2010, the homicide rate for blacks was 28.8 per 100,000; for males, it was 12.7 and for people between 20 and 24 it was 13.2.

Homicideratesbyrace

Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, July 12, 2013, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In a press release, Linda C. Degutis with the CDC said the continued decline is encouraging but far too many young people in America are still dying violent deaths.

"Unfortunately, homicide continues to rank in the top three leading causes of death for our young people,”said Degutis, who is the director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Our youth represent our future and one homicide is one too many.  Comprehensive approaches that include evidence-based prevention strategies are essential to eliminate homicide as a leading cause of death of young people.”

Jennifer Yang is the Star’s global health reporter. She previously worked as a general assignment reporter and won a NNA in 2011 for her explanatory piece on the Chilean mining disaster. Follow her on Twitter: @jyangstar

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