Police link the recent jump in the nation’s violent-crime rate to an increasing number of juveniles involved in armed robberies, assaults, and other incidents, USA Today reports. In Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Washington, D.C., Boston, and elsewhere, police are reporting spikes in juvenile crime as a surge in violence involving gangs and weapons has raised crime rates from historical lows early this decade. The FBI said the nation’s rate for violent crimes – murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault – rose in 2005, the first time in five years.
In Washington and Boston, there have been alarming increases in robberies by juveniles. In Boston, juvenile arrests for robbery rose 54 percent in 2005; weapons arrests involving youths rose 103 percent. “Kids are jumping into this violence,” police Superintendent Paul Joyce says. “We’re very concerned.” Tight budgets and an emphasis on terrorism have shifted federal and state money from police and programs for youths. “It should be no surprise that the streets are more violent,” Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak says. Since 2003, Minneapolis has lost at least $35 million a year in state funding for city programs. In Boston and other cities, gang leaders imprisoned a decade or longer ago are being released and are reclaiming their turf. Joyce says they recruit or force youths to carry guns or deliver drugs.