A new study by a Northwestern University professor of psychiatry and behavioral science says delinquent teens run a disproportionate risk of dying early, violent deaths. The long-term study found that compared to the general population delinquent girls had a violent death rate that was almost five times higher and boys had a violent death rate that was almost three times higher. These rates were even higher among Hispanic teens. Hispanic boys where five times more likely to die violently than the general population and Hispanic girls where nine times more likely to die violently than the general population.
The study followed over 1,800 children who were detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago from 1995 to 1998; the children were followed for up to 16 years. During this time period, 111 of the study participants died. Of this number 68% of the participants were murdered; 91% of the murders were committed with guns.
Alcohol abuse, selling drugs, and gang involvement were the key factors that predicted a violent death by the age of 34. In addition the death rate among teens between the ages of 15 to 19 was almost twice the rate among troops in Iraq and Afghanistan during combat in wartime.
The study’s author, Linda Teplin, said that early violent deaths among delinquent teens was a “health disparity” and that “prevention is key” to reducing the disparity. This includes decreasing delinquency and early interventions among delinquent teens to reduce violence.