Juvenile Crime and Victimization - Status Offense Cases
offenses truancy liquor violations
Status offenses are behaviors that are law violations only when committed by a juvenile (such as possession of alcohol, truancy, and running away from home). According to the OJJDP, juvenile courts formally handled an estimated 158,500 status offense cases in 1997 (the latest year for which statistics are available). In many communities social service agencies rather than juvenile courts have assumed responsibility for status offenders. National estimates of informally handled status offense cases are not calculated because of differences in screening procedures. The statistics, therefore, focus on formally handled (petitioned) status offense cases.
In 1997 approximately 26% of petitioned status offenses involved a liquor law violation, 26% a truancy charge, 13% ungovernability, and 15% runaway charges. Other types of status offenses, such as curfew violations, accounted for the remaining 20%. Between 1993 and 1997 the rate for runaway cases increased 14%, truancy grew by 14%, liquor law violations rose by 39%, and the case rate for ungovernability offenses increased 35%. The nation's juvenile courts processed 5.5 cases for every one thousand juveniles in the population in 1997.
The FBI reported that more than 55% of formal status offense cases in 1997 involved youths fifteen years old or younger. The most common offense in this age group was truancy (34%), while older youths most often violated the liquor laws (42%).