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Juvenile crime in Virginia

When a young person is accused of breaking the law, that young person may be facing consequences that affect their whole future. When numerous juveniles in an area are accused of committing crimes, the community can be greatly affected.

The commonwealth of Virginia monitors juvenile intakes, or incidents involving juveniles who have allegedly committed a crime. Anytime a person under the age of 18 is brought to a detention center on suspicion of committing a juvenile offense, intake data is collected.

Generally, based on the data collected, Virginia's youth crime rate is lower than the national average. In 2011, Virginia's violent crime juvenile arrest rate was 110 arrests per 100,000 for people ages 10 to 17, which is considerably lower than the United States' 204 per 100,000. During that same year, the property crime rate was 753 arrests per 100,000 youths for property crime, compared to the national average of 1,001 per 100,000. While there is still room for improvement, it appears that Virginia's average juvenile intake rate decreased significantly from 2004 to 2013.

These numbers indicate possible problem areas for communities across Virginia. However, it can be difficult to compare different regions due to differences in policy and local justice systems. Law enforcement officials have different ways of handling a young person suspected of committing a crime. Some areas do not arrest those suspected of minor offenses in order to save their limited resources for more serious crimes. Other areas use alternative forms of policing such as counseling rather than traditional arrests. That's why it is important for teenagers to remember that the long-term consequences of being charged with a crime will depend on a variety of factors.

Source: Virginia.gov, "Juvenile intakes," accessed on March 16, 2015

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