Violence among children has soared since 2020, a stark reversal of a decadeslong decline in juvenile crime. In the U.S., homicides committed by juveniles acting alone rose 30 percent in 2020 from a year earlier, while those committed by multiple juveniles increased 66 percent. The number of killings committed by children under 14 was the highest in two decades, according federal data, the Wall Street Journal reports. One consequence is a mounting toll of young victims. The number of juveniles killing other juveniles was the highest it has been in more than two decades, 2020 federal data show.
Some 153 victims in New York City under the age of 18 were shot in 2022, the most in at least six years and more than the 127 total minors shot in 2018 and 2019 combined, according to police data. In New York City, police said 124 juveniles committed shootings during 2022, up from 62 in 2020 and 48 in 2019. “The tragedy here is that we’re talking about a gunman who is too young to be called a gunman because he’s 15 years old,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark after the death of a girl, 11. “These ages make you weep.” A rise in violent crime in the first two years of the pandemic—particularly homicides and shootings—swept through urban and rural areas alike. Police, prosecutors and community groups attribute much of the youth violence to broad disruptions that started with the pandemic and lockdowns. Schools closed, depriving students of structure in daily life, as did services for troubled children. Increased stress compounded a mental-health crisis. Social-media conflicts increasingly turned deadly. Easier access to firearms for juveniles has played a role, including the rise of homemade ghost guns and illegal firearms trafficking.