The 40-Age Crime Wave You’ve Never Heard Of…

The 40-Age Crime Wave You’ve Never Heard Of…

As the news media, cops, and “experts” declare a new wave of “youth violence”–Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia,every news story is exactly the same–which age group actually shows the biggest rise in murder, violent crime, serious crime, and drug offenses over the last three years?

CBS Evening News declared in a typical report (July 23, 2007) on homicide and violence: “Social scientists call it urban genocide — where children run the street and adults have run out of answers.” Yes, the media and authorities tell us over and over, it’s all just the “kids.”

Except… it’s not the kids… it’s the parents. The age group showing the biggest increase in homicide, serious crime, and drug offenses is one “experts” never mention… 40-agers. Nor, despite expert claims that people over 30 don’t commit crime, are the numbers small.

In 2005, Americans in their 40s committed 22% more homicides, 43% more drug crimes, and nearly as many violent offenses as youths (see table). Not only that, but FBI crime clearance reports show youthful arrestees are responsible for far fewer crimes per offender than older arrestees. In 2005, teens comprised 16% of violent crime arrests but just 12% of violent crimes. The only offense category for which youths show higher arrest numbers are for property offenses, which is why the Part I totals for under-18 are higher–though 40-agers show a bigger increase. Drug offenses also skyrocketed for 40-agers but actually fell for teens.

Change

Age
1990
2003
2005
2005 v. 1990
2005 v. 2003
HOMICIDE
<18
3,293
1,113
1,265
-62%
+14%
40-49
1,926
1,309
1,539
-20%
+18%
VIOLENT CRIME
<18
117,694
92,137
95,955
-18%
+4%
40-49
54,905
86,289
89,184
+62%
+3%
ALL PART I CRIME
<18
844,684
559,687
519,201
-39%
-7%
40-49
191,556
274,538
301,496
+57%
+10%
DRUG OFFENSES
<18
83,440
195,735
192,007
+130%
-2%
40-49
82,168
233,100
275,355
+235%
+18%

 

Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 1990-2005. Arrest totals adjusted for proportion of nation covered by report.

In 1990, 70% more youths than 40-agers were arrested for murder, twice as many for violent crimes, more than four times more for Part I offenses, and identical numbers for drugs compared to 40-agers–the age to be their parents.

Note that in 2005, more 40-agers than youths were arrested for murder, many more for drugs, nearly as many for violent crimes, and a sharply narrowed gap for Part I crimes.

This massive aging of crime is shocking news. The arrest numbers for 40-agers should not even be in the same ballpark as for teenagers. For one different, American teenagers are 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty than Americans in their 40s, and poverty is firmly tied to higher rates of arrest. Second, middle-agers are hardly a police-targeted group. Finally, aren’t middle-agers praising ourselves for vastly more maturity, cognitive development, and law abiding natures than violent, out-of-control youths?

In any sane society, the giant increase and large numbers of middle-aged violence and drug arrestees would be generating alarmed headlines and calls for urgent action. These are, after all, the parents raising today’s youths.

But in America of 2007, only one imperative applies: low-status young people must be blamed in order to flatter older age groups the media and interest groups see as their constituencies. Today’s news media and the experts they rely on seem unable to deal with the big changes in crime and drug abuse–and that denial and scapegoating is a big reason the United States remains unable to confront its serious social problems.