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A Look at Youth Homicide in California

Los Angeles County, which includes Palos Verdes communities, ranks 10th in the state for youth homicide rate, according to study. Homicide is the second leading cause of death for young people in California.

Los Angeles County has ranked 10th among California counties in the highest rate of young homicide victims, according to an annual study released this month from the Violence Policy Center.

When looking at the cold data, however, the L.A. area had the highest number of youth homicides in the state.

The study, "Lost Youth: A County-by-County Analysis of 2010 California Homicide Victims Ages 10 to 24," uses the most recent data available to rank California counties by their homicide victimization rates for youth ages 10 to 24. The study was the first published by the VPC last year and is funded by the California Wellness Foundation.

Homicide is the second leading cause of death for California's youth, outpaced only by unintentional injuries, the majority of which are motor vehicle fatalities.

A breakdown of the numbers by race shows that homicide is the leading cause of death for black youth in California, and the second for all other races except white youth—who are more likely to die from suicide or cancer.

The homicide rate is far higher for black youth, who are 22 times more likely to be victims of homicide than whites. The rate for Hispanic youth is also consistently above the state's overall rate, according to the study, with Hispanic youth five times more likely to be murdered than whites. Nearly 90 percent of all youth homicide victims in California are male.

Among youth and young adults in 2010, about 50 percent of homicide victims were killed by a stranger. Thirty-two percent were killed by someone they knew, and 65 additional victims (19 percent) were identified as gang members.

Firearms were the most common murder weapon used in 2010, with 87 percent of victims killed by gunfire, according to the study. For all races, the most common homicide location was a street, sidewalk, or parking lot.

The study concludes 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 24."

The study also urged "effective violence prevention strategies," such as measures to prevent young people from accessing guns.

Here is the study’s ranking of top 10 California counties with high rates of homicide among youth, ages 10 to 24:

  1. Monterey County, 24.36 per 100,000
  2. Alameda County, 18.41 per 100,000
  3. San Joaquin County, 18.36 per 100,000
  4. Tulare County, 18.06 per 100,000
  5. Merced County, 13.44 per 100,000
  6. Contra Costa County, 12.94 per 100,000
  7. Fresno County, 11.61 per 100,000
  8. San Francisco County, 11.52 per 100,000
  9. Madera County, 11.39 per 100,000
  10. Los Angeles County, 11.35 per 100,000

(Source: Violence Policy Center)

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