Editorials

Preventing crime and violence

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6975.271 (Published 04 February 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:271
  1. Jonathan P Shepherd,
  2. David P Farrington
  1. Professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery; Department of Oral Surgery, Medicine, and Pathology, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff CF4 4XY
  2. Professor of psychological criminology Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 9DT

    Preschool education, early family support, and situational prevention can be effective

    Violent crime, which is committed mainly by adolescents and young adults, is a serious and increasing problem on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States the number of juveniles (under 18) who were arrested for murder and manslaughter rose by 60% between 1981 and 1990 compared with a 5% rise in those aged 18 years and over.1 The proportion of all murders by those under 18 rose in the same interval from 9.4% to 13.6%, and arrests of juveniles over the period rose by 28%for rape, 57% for aggravated assault, and 54% for motor vehicle theft. In Britain reported crime has steadily increased; in 1991 its peak incidence was at 18 for males and 15 for females.2 The number of victims of violence attending one British accident and emergency department trebled over 1974–91.3

    Juvenile crime is recognised as one of the most important problems facing both Britain and the United States, not least because of its costs to victims, offenders, and society. For example, incarceration of a juvenile in the United States cost an average of $29 000 a year in 1991. Escalating juvenile crime, particularly involving firearms in the United States and permanently disfiguring maxillofacial injury in Britain, has been the spur for the adoption of violence as a public health issue.4 5

    Young offenders …

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