THURSDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- The murder rate among children and young adults has hit a 30-year low, U.S. health officials reported Thursday.
The good news, however, is tempered by the slowed improvement in murder rates among males and blacks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"In 1994, we began to see a promising decline," said report co-author Corinne David-Ferdon, a behavioral scientist at the CDC. "The decline has continued, and we reached a 30-year low in 2010, with a rate of 7.5 per 100,000," she said.
"In 2000 to 2010, we were pleased to see the decline continue, but we also saw that the decline has slowed," David-Ferdon added. "The decline particularly slowed for the people that are at higher risk for these homicides, which include males and African-American youths."
However, "despite the 30-year low, homicide still ranks among the top three leading causes of death for youth," David-Ferdon said. "The good news is that prevention is possible. We do have comprehensive primary prevention approaches, which means that we stop violence before it starts."
One expert agreed with David-Ferdon's assessment.
"This is a public health crisis," said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "Even though the numbers are showing some improvement, there are high-risk groups that still need more focused attention."
Glatter believes more after-school and family interventions might help lower youth murder rates. "Family dinners are still important. They are an ideal time to help parents focus on the lives of their children," he said.
"We need to not be complacent with any improvement in rates seen overall, because these high-risk groups make up the bulk of the concerning trend we are seeing," Glatter noted.
Declines in the murder rate have also been slower for gun homicides than for murders by other means, the researchers added.
Highlights of the report include:
- In 2010, there were nearly 5,000 murders among youth aged 10 to 24.
- In 2010, these murders cost an estimated $9 billion in lost productivity and medical costs.
- From 1985 to 1993, the youth murder rate rose 83 percent (from 8.7 per 100,000 in 1985 to 15.9 per 100,000 in 1993).
- From 1994 to 1999, the youth murder rate dropped 41 percent (from 15.2 per 100,000 in 1994 to 8.9 per 100,000 in 1999).
- From 2000 to 2010, the overall youth murder rate dropped an average of 1 percent per year.
- In 2010, the youth murder rate was 12.7 per 100,000 for men, 13.2 per 100,000 for those aged 20 to 24 and 28.8 per 100,000 for black youths.
- Over 30 years, the annual rate of firearm murders among those aged 10 to 24 was 3.7 times higher than the rate of non-firearm murders.
The report was published in the July 12 issue of the CDC publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
For more information on youth violence, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.