The rate of homicides committed by teenage males is “skyrocketing,” the FBI said Sunday, while other violent and non-violent crime reported to police dipped in 1994 for the third consecutive year.
Police reports of seven major crimes dropped 3 percent compared with 1993. That included a 4 percent decline in the violent crimes and a 3 percent reduction in the far more numerous crimes against property, the bureau said.
Although declines occurred in every region of the country and in cities of almost every size, experts said the heartening statistics mask an explosion of gun murders committed by teenage boys.
“The overall crime rate hides the grim truth because it mixes together two crime trends going in opposite directions,” said James Alan Fox, dean of the College of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University.
“The rate adults commit crime is dropping fast. The 76 million baby boomers, who dominate the numbers, are getting into middle age and are not so violent as when they were younger,” Fox said.
“But the rate at which boys are committing crimes, particularly homicide, is skyrocketing.”
The FBI’s preliminary annual report has no data on the age of offenders. But Fox said final FBI data from 1985-93 show that the number of adults age 25 or older committing murder decreased 20 percent.
But in the same period, homicides committed by 18- to 24-year-old males increased 65 percent and by 14- to 17-year-old males by 165 percent.
In 1994, the FBI said, robbery dropped the most, by 6 percent; murder and rape were down 5 percent; aggravated assault declined by 2 percent.
“We’re now in the lull before the crime storm,” Fox said. As the children of baby boomers age, “by the year 2005, we will have 23 percent more teenagers than now,” Fox said.
The problem is confined to boys with guns; the homicide rate among teenage girls has not risen.
“Since 1984, the number of teenagers committing murder with a gun has quadrupled. The number of teenagers committing murder with all other weapons has stayed the same,” Fox said.
xxxx CRIME UP IN SPOKANE In Spokane, reports of major crimes rose more than 7 percent, from 16,026 in 1993 to 17,216 in 1994. Crime rose 6.6 percent in Tacoma from 21,206 in 1993 to 22,603 last year. In Seattle, crimes fell more than 7 percent, from 62,999 in 1993 to 58,207 last year.