America’s teen killers are on the rise and getting younger, while society seems baffled by this perplexing cultural truism.
America is experiencing record-setting homicide rates. And it seems politicians in most major cities would like to ignore the murder statistics from 2020. Yet those “stats” represent real people, experiencing real tragedies, while communities suffer.
I’ve paid attention to crime trends for 40 years, in serving in the military, municipal law enforcement, and writing/publishing about law enforcement. Yet I am truly astonished at the volume of murder being committed by teens.
Sounding the alarm…
Although it is ever present, this isn’t just inner-city violence. And I’m not just sounding the alarm on murders committed by teenagers: I’m sounding the alarm on a growing number of murders being committed by young teenagers—15 and under. Increasingly, homicides are being committed by children who are too young to get a driver’s license.
Killers under 15 have increased by nearly 17 percent
The latest statistics available come from the 2019 Uniform Crime Report, which shows a 16.9 percent increase in this category. In real numbers, there were 69 murders committed by 15-year-old “children” in 2019. That is alarming, if not horrifying.
Between 2017 and 2018, there was a 5.7 percent increase in homicides committed by teens under 18, per the 2018 Uniform Crime Report, but these figures leveled off in 2019.
Teen killers are increasingly making headlines
Although we do not yet have figures from 2020, as the managing editor of Law Officer, I’ve become intimately familiar with the topic. The articles below represent news stories that we’ve published in the past few months regarding teen killers, along with the age of the accused suspect following each title:
- Denver police arrest 3 teens for house fire that killed 5 people (15-16 years of age)
- Four young girls, 12-14, arrested after 15-year-old fatally stabbed in Walmart brawl (12-14)
- Indianapolis police arrest juvenile suspect in mass murder that killed six (17-year-old family member)
- Florida teen receives 45-year sentence for strangling mother to death during argument (15-year-old son)
- Prosecutor charges teen father with shooting newborn, hiding body in snow (16)
- Texas teen, 15, charged with murder after beating mother to death (15-year-old son)
- California teen arrested in stabbing death of woman on hiking trail (17)
- Chicago teen charged with murder after beating elderly man with baseball bat, lighting body on fire (15)
- Alabama teen accused of murdering 5 family members has shown ‘no remorse’ (15)
- Indiana teenager pleads guilty to murdering pregnant cheerleader (17)
Unfortunately, there are more, and this list only includes the stories we’ve covered in the past few months.
Even worse, these headlines are only about teenagers committing murder, and do not include other horrible crimes committed by younger “children.” For example, a 10-year-old fired a shotgun at San Diego police officers, which led to a 90-minute standoff with SWAT—talk about a “handle with care crisis.”
Paying attention to “red flags”
And speaking or crisis, parenting has always been difficult. But it’s probably more challenging today than any time in history (much like law enforcement). So each of us must stay alert and pay attention to red flags. And if we see something, indeed we must say something!
Collectively, we better wake up
Everyone has theories as to why this is occurring: i.e. lack of this, lack of that; too much of this, too much of that. I also have some anchored opinions on the topic, if I were to speak from experience. But my purpose here is not to lecture or preach. I simply want to sound the alarm: America’s teen killers are on the rise, and they are getting younger!
—Jim McNeff, Managing Editor