Homicide – Firearm

Fact Sheet

In 2012, 740 children in the United States died from intentional firearm-related injuries. Firearms are the weapon used against 67% of male victims; 33% of female victims. Murder of juveniles by firearms fell 32% between 2006 and 2011. In 2012, 67% of juvenile murder victims were ages 15–17. The older the victim, the more likely he or she is to be killed by firearms. About 1 in 5 reported murders of juveniles in 2011 occurred in just 5 of the nation’s more than 3,000 counties. By contrast, in 2011, 87% of US counties had no reported juvenile murders.

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance-United States 2013 reported that 5.5% of the high school students surveyed indicated that they had carried a firearm within the previous 30 days. The prevalence was higher among boys than girls and among white students than black students.

Homicides are the number one cause of death for black teenagers, the second for white and Hispanic youth. Major contributing factors in addition to poverty include easy access to handguns, involvement in drug and gang activity, family disruption and school failure. These homicides usually occur in connection with an argument or dispute. They are most often committed by acquaintances of the same gender, race and age, using inexpensive, easily acquired handguns.

Major Risk Factors for Youth Violence (from CDC Youth Violence Prevention website).

Individual Risk Factors

  • History of violent victimization
  • Attention deficits, hyperactivity or learning disorders
  • History of early aggressive behavior
  • Involvement with drugs, alcohol or tobacco
  • Low IQ
  • Poor behavioral control
  • Deficits in social cognitive or information-processing abilities
  • High emotional distress
  • History of treatment for emotional problems
  • Antisocial beliefs and attitudes
  • Exposure to violence and conflict in the family

Family Risk Factors

  • Authoritarian childrearing attitudes
  • Harsh, lax or inconsistent disciplinary practices
  • Low parental involvement
  • Low emotional attachment to parents or caregivers
  • Low parental education and income
  • Parental substance abuse or criminality
  • Poor family functioning
  • Poor monitoring and supervision of children

Peer/Social Risk Factors

  • Association with delinquent peers
  • Involvement in gangs
  • Social rejection by peers
  • Lack of involvement in conventional activities
  • Poor academic performance
  • Low commitment to school and school failure

Community Risk Factors

  • Diminished economic opportunities
  • High concentrations of poor residents
  • High level of transiency
  • High level of family disruption
  • Low levels of community participation
  • Socially disorganized neighborhoods

Records Needed for Case Review

  • Scene investigation reports
  • Police and crime lab reports
  • CPS histories on family, child and perpetrators
  • Names, ages and genders of other children in home
  • Ballistics information on firearms
  • Prior crime records in neighborhood
  • Juvenile and criminal records of teen and perpetrators
  • Interviews with witnesses
  • Information from gang squad


The following five sites contain evidence-based programs that have been shown to be effective in reducing youth violence.