WASHINGTON – The number of young black men and teenagers who either killed or were killed in shootings has risen at an alarming rate since 2000, a new study shows.
Not so for black teens, the youngest of whom saw dramatic increases in shooting deaths, the Northeastern report concluded.
Last year, for example, 426 black males between the ages of 14 and 17 were killed in gun crimes, the study shows. That marked a 40 percent increase from 2000.
Similarly, an estimated 964 in the same age group committed fatal shootings in 2007 — a 38 percent increase from seven years earlier. The number of offenders is estimated because not all crimes are reported, said Northeastern criminologist James Alan Fox, who co-authored the study.
"Although the overall rate of homicide in the United States remains relatively low, the landscape is quite different for countless Americans living, and some dying, in violence-infested neighborhoods," Fox said.
Seizing on President-elect Barack Obama's incoming administration as an opportunity for more funding, Fox added: "There is an urgency for reinvestment in children and families. In essence, we need a bailout for kids at risk."
Obama will be the nation's first black president.
The study partly blamed Bush administration grant cuts to local police and juvenile crime prevention programs for the surge in crimes by young black men and teens. Incoming Vice President Joe Biden has promised funding to put 50,000 new police officers on the street to help bring violent crime rates back to a decade-long annual decline that began in the mid-1990s, after then-President Bill Clinton provided local officials with money to hire 100,000 new cops.
Nationwide, the number of murders and violent crimes overall dropped last year after increasing in 2005 and 2006, according to annual data compiled by the FBI. Overall, however, murders have risen by about 8 percent between 2000 and 2007.
The FBI reported 10,067 arrests in murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases in 2007. Half of the people arrested — 5,078 — were black. Almost 10 percent of black people arrested for murder were under age 18, the FBI data show.
The number of young white men who committed gun-related homicides also rose over the same period, the Northeastern study showed, but not as dramatically. In 2007, an estimated 384 white males age 14 to 17 shot someone to death, up from 368 in 2000.
The numbers of homicides committed by women and teenage girls — whether black or white — were relatively few, the Northeastern study found.