Youth Homicide Rates in U.S. Plunge to 30-Year Low, CDC Says

Homicide rates for young Americans plummeted to a 30-year low in 2010, showing that early intervention programs help reduce violence, U.S. health officials said.

About 4,800 U.S. youths ages 10 to 24 were murdered that year, making homicide one of the top three causes of deaths for the age group, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report today. The rate was 7.5 per 100,000 youths in 2010, with declines shown in all age, ethnic and racial groups. Almost four of five of the homicides were committed with guns.

Prevention programs in schools and communities have been shown to reduce the risk of violence and need to be emphasized by public health leaders, the Atlanta-based CDC said. The programs complement law enforcement efforts, which decrease violence though “don’t stop it from occurring in the first place,” the agency said.

“We know communities are working really hard to prevent violence,” said Corinne David-Ferdon, a behavioral scientist in the CDC’s division of violence prevention who was an author of the report. “It is important to think about multiple strategies, from communication to family level to community building,” she said in a telephone interview.

The homicide rate during the period from 1981 to 2010 reached a peak in 1993, the CDC said. Homicide rates for male youths declined less than for females in the last 10 years studied, the report said.

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