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Monterey County Ranks #1 for Youth Homicide Victimization in California, New Study Reveals

Study Compares Rates of Homicide Victimization for Californians Ages 10 to 24 by County, Race, Ethnicity, Weapon Used, Circumstance, and Location

WASHINGTON - Monterey County's young people
suffer a murder rate that leads all California counties and is nearly three
times the overall state rate for the same age range, according to "Lost
Youth:  A County-by-County Analysis of 2009 California Homicide Victims
Ages 10 to 24," a new study analyzing unpublished California Department
of Justice Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data released today by the
Violence Policy Center (VPC).  

The study, available at
and funded by The California Wellness Foundation, uses the most recent data
available to rank California
counties by their homicide rates for youth and young adults ages 10 to 24.

The study finds overwhelmingly that firearms, usually
handguns, are the weapon of choice.  The study also shows that there are vast
disparities between groups:  in California,
young African-Americans are more than 14 times more likely to be murdered than
young whites.

Josh Sugarmann, VPC executive director and study co-author
states, "Comparing county by county the
homicide rates for youth and young adults in California shows the continuing,
urgent need for tailored, localized approaches to reducing youth homicide that
integrate prevention and intervention while engaging local leaders and
community stakeholders."


The top 10 counties with each county's corresponding
homicide victimization rate for its population of Californians ages 10 to 24

1) Monterey
County, 31.24 per 100,000

2) Alameda
County, 20.69 per 100,000

3) Kern
County, 19.98 per 100,000

4) Contra
Costa County,
19.17 per 100,000

5) Tulare
County, 15.31 per 100,000

6) Los Angeles
County, 14.61 per 100,000

7) San Joaquin
County, 13.86 per 100,000

8) Stanislaus
County, 13.49 per 100,000

9) Merced
County, 12.87 per 100,000

10) Solano
County, 12.59 per

-State overall rate for 10- to 24-year-olds:  10.48 per



The study states that "homicide,
and particularly gun homicide, continues to be one of the most pressing public
health concerns in California among youth and young adults ages 10 to


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According to the Violence
Policy Center,
"effective violence prevention
strategies must include measures that prioritize preventing youth and young
adults from accessing firearms, especially handguns."

The study recommends further research into "the identification of the make, model, and
caliber of weapons most preferred by this age group as well as analyses
identifying the sources of the weapons"
and an "expansion of comprehensive violence
intervention and prevention strategies that include a focus on the
psychological well-being of witnesses and survivors of gun violence."


The study contains a detailed analysis for each of the top
10 counties, including:  gender; race/ethnicity; most common weapons;
victim to offender relationship; circumstance; and location.  (To help
ensure more stable rates, only counties with a population of at least 25,000
youth and young adults between the ages of 10 to 24 were included in the
study.  The selected counties account for 99 percent of homicide victims
ages 10 to 24 in California and 98 percent of California's
population ages 10 to 24 for 2009.)   


The study's statewide findings include more detailed
information, broken down by a number of factors.


Out of the 803 homicide victims ages 10 to 24 in California in 2009:

-90% were male and 10% were female. 

-56% were Hispanic, 30% black, 10% white, 3% Asian, and one
percent were "other."

Overall, black victims were killed at a rate more than 14
times higher than white victims.  Hispanic victims were killed at a rate
nearly four times higher than white victims.  Asian victims were killed at
roughly the same rate as white victims.


Firearms, especially handguns, were the most common weapon
used to murder youth and young adults.  Of the 794 homicides for which the
murder weapon could be identified, 84 percent of victims died by gunfire. 
Of these, 76 percent were killed with handguns.


For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship
could be identified, 45 percent were killed by a stranger.  Thirty-two
percent were killed by someone they knew.  An additional 23 percent were
identified as gang members.  Black and Hispanic victims were more likely
to be killed by a stranger than white or Asian victims.


The overwhelming majority of homicides of youth and young
adults were not related to any other felony crime.  For the 618 homicides
in which the circumstances between the victim and offender could be identified,
82 percent were not related to the commission of any other felony.  Of
these, 68 percent were gang-related. 


For all races except for Asian victims, the most common
homicide location was a street, sidewalk, or parking lot.  Among youth and
young adults for homicides in which the location could be determined, 56
percent occurred on a street, sidewalk, or in a parking lot.  Fifteen
percent occurred in the home of the victim or offender.  Eleven percent
occurred at another residence, and seven percent occurred in a vehicle.


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The Violence Policy Center is a national tax-exempt educational organization working for a safer America through research, investigation, analysis, and advocacy. The VPC provides information to policymakers, journalists, organizations, advocates, and the general public.

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