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Rehabilitation programs help U.S. juvenile crime rates drop to record lows

Video by Jason Puckett

Article by Andrew Wilson

According to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement officers and agencies throughout the country made approximately 60,000 arrests for violent crimes involving individuals under the age of 18 in 2012. That number declined 10 percent since 2011 and is a 36 percent drop since 2003.

This marks a 32-year low for the United States.

Compared with trends since the 1980s, youth arrest rates for violent crimes have reached a new low every year since 2009.

By law, violent crimes are considered murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

A large part of the decline of these numbers is due to rehabilitation programs set up by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency.

On a local level the Raleigh News and Observer reported the number of teens under the age of 16 charged with violent crimes has dropped nearly 37 percent in the state of North Carolina since 2002.

In particular, state legislation nearly 15 years ago played a role in the decline of the number of juvenile arrests with the passing of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act in 1998. The program would treat juveniles according to the seriousness of their crimes, the risks they posed and their personal histories.

Junior Crime Prevention Council and Junior Police Academy are two programs that have played a large part in dropping these juvenile arrests. The goal of both programs are to educate local youth about the risks involved around the community, as well as the consequences if they commit the crime.