Indicator: In 2014, the juvenile violent crime arrest rate per 100,000 children in Travis County was 176.

Progress: Overall downward trend since 2006

Significance of Indicator: Violent juvenile crime increases the likelihood of criminal activity as an adult. Juvenile delinquency is often related to a poor education, lack of attendance, and having to repeat grades in school.

How we are doing on this Indicator: The juvenile violent crime arrest rate in Travis County was higher than the state rate in 2014. The 2012 rate of 99.5 is a low point that represents a significant decrease from the peak high rate of 277.4 in 2005.

what the data tell us

Definition: The violent referral includes youth aged 10-17 arrested for the offenses of murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault through Travis County Juvenile Probation Department. 

Data Source: Kids Count Datacenter & the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

The story behind the data

National Trends

In 2008, 2.11 million juveniles were arrested nationally, accounting for three percent of all arrests.  Of all the violent crime arrests, juveniles accounted for 16%, which represents a 9% decrease in a 10 year period (1999 to 2008). Nationally violent crimes committed by juveniles have steadily decreased since their peak in 1994. The trend impacted most violent offense categories. The percent of murder/non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape and aggravated assault offenses committed by juvenile offenders have decreased, while the percent of robbery offenses committed by juveniles has increased.

Across States Comparison

In 2008, 181 juveniles were arrested in Texas for violent crimes per 100,000 juveniles in the population. These numbers fall far below other states (including, but not limited to Alaska-272, Arizona-228, California-414, Louisiana-603, Maryland-608, New Jersey-332, Oklahoma-202, etc.) and the U.S. as a whole (306 per 100,000).

Texas Trends

In 2009, 3,506 juveniles were arrested for violent crimes in Texas accounting for 9.8% of all violent crimes in the state of Texas. The percent of violent crime for juveniles has been decreasing in Texas since 2000, when juvenile arrests for violent crimes accounted for 14.6% of all violent crime arrests.

According to the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, violent crime among juveniles has witnessed similar trends to the national statistics. Overall violent crime has decreased between 1995 and 2008. The only violent crime category that witnessed an increase was robbery.

Travis County Trends

Similar to national and state trends, in Travis County, Violent crime rates showed a gradual decline between fiscal year 2006 and fiscal year 2008; although in fiscal year 2009 violent crime committed by juveniles increased slightly, juvenile violent crime rate has witnessed a downward trend since fiscal year 2006 (see chart “Travis County Juvenile Violent Referrals Trends FY06 – FY10” above.)

There has been much written about the “mystery” of why crime rates are declining nationally, including a July 2011 article by Richard Florida inThe AtlanticWhy Crime is Down in America’s Cities, despite factors which predict otherwise. In Travis County, during the five year period between 1995 and 2000, many initiatives were begun or expanded for juvenile drug courts, changes in sentencing practices, and social service programs as a result of national incentives and sanctions, so the drop may be the result of many factors combined.  Over the past fifteen years, expanded research on juvenile interventions has resulted in best practices being identified and funded.

Please also see the indicator report for Disciplinary Removals from School, which is a predictor of future incarceration.

Local efforts to improve the indicator

  • COPE: The Travis County Juvenile Probation Department started a juvenile mental health court in 2006. This specialized court diverts youth with mental health disorders from adjudication and further penetration into the juvenile justice system. Youth and their families are connected to a variety of community based services and supervised by juvenile probation officers with special training in this area. Between 2008 and 2010, 76% of the youth on average completed the program successfully.
  • The Residential Services Division of Travis County Juvenile Probation Department provides a residential program designed to meet the needs of medium and high risk adjudicated youth. The program provides behavior modification and substance abuse treatment. Key components of the program include parental involvement, skills building, and enhancing self responsibility. Youth that are discharged successfully must complete all three phases of the program and meet all of their treatment goals. Residents participate in school, treatment group, individual counseling, parenting groups, and other structured activities while in the program. In 2010, 72% of the youth were successfully discharged from the program.
  • Travis County Juvenile Probation Department Day Enrichment- This 12 week day reporting program provides substance abuse services and academic instruction to youth requiring more structure than on outpatient substance abuse treatment group offers. Youth who are returning home after residential substance abuse treatment may also go through this program as part of their transition home. In addition to substance abuse treatment, the program addresses behavioral issues and provides supplemental mental health and case management services. In 2010, 79% of the youth attending successfully completed the program.
  • The Council on At Risk Youth’s (CARY) youth violence prevention program demonstrates significant improvements in attitude, behavior, social skills, problem solving skills, anger management skills, conflict resolution skills, school attendance rates, grades and decreases in disciplinary acts and disciplinary actions. 
  • SafePlace provides school-based, psycho-educational support groups designed to decrease bullying behavior and other abusive behaviors by implementing the Expect Respect curriculum. The program targets high risk students with the goal to decrease disciplinary placements, contribute to increased student safety, decrease victimization and decrease substance abuse. Program evaluation indicates that disciplinary referral rates for program participants dropped, particularly for substance abuse and aggressive offenses.

Juvenile Violeent Crime Arrest Rate

Sources cited below: JJDP: Juvenile Justice Bulletin, December 2009. OJJDP: Juvenile Justice Bulletin, December 2009

Definition: The arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10 to 17.

Data Source: OJJDP: Juvenile Justice Bulletin, December 2009

Data Considerations: n/a

Juvenile Violent Crime as a % if Total Violent Crime in Texas

Sources cited below: TCJPD Violent Referral Report

Definition: The percent of juvenile violent crime out of the total violent crime in Texas.

Data Source: TCJPD Violent Referral Report

Data Considerations: n/a

contributors for this indicator

Travis County Juvenile Probation

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Ready by 21 (RB21) and the RB21 logo are registered trademarks of the Forum for Youth Investment. The Central Texas RB21 Coalition is a member of the Forum’s RB21 Learning Network. The Central Texas RB21 online dashboard is currently sponsored by Workforce Solutions — Capital Area Workforce Board, the Community Advancement Network (CAN) and the City of Austin, with content and data contributions from over 20 local youth-serving coalitions.