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Shooting deaths rising for black teenagers

WASHINGTON — The number of young black men and teenagers who either killed or were killed in shootings has risen at an alarming rate since 2000, a study shows.

The study, to be released today by criminologists at Northeastern University in Boston, comes as FBI data is showing that murders have leveled off nationwide.

Not so for black teens, the youngest of whom saw dramatic increases in shooting deaths, the Northeastern report concluded.

Last year, 426 black males from age 14 to 17 were killed in gun crimes, the study shows. That marked a 40 percent increase from 2000.

Similarly, an estimated 964 in the same age group committed fatal shootings in 2007 — a 38 percent increase from 2000. The number of offenders is estimated because not all crimes are reported, said Northeastern criminologist James Alan Fox, a co-author of the study.

"Although the overall rate of homicide in the United States remains relatively low, the landscape is quite different for countless Americans living, and some dying, in violence-infested neighborhoods," Fox said.

Seizing on President-elect Obama's incoming administration as an opportunity for more funding, Fox added: "There is an urgency for reinvestment in children and families. In essence, we need a bailout for kids at risk."

The study partly blamed Bush administration cuts in grants to local police and juvenile crime prevention programs. Vice President-elect Joe Biden has promised funding for 50,000 new police officers to help bring violent crime rates back to a decadelong annual decline that began in the mid 1990s, after then-President Bill Clinton provided local officials with money to hire 100,000 new officers.

The number of young white men who committed gun-related homicides also rose over the same period, the Northeastern study showed, but not as dramatically. In 2007, an estimated 384 white males age 14 to 17 shot someone to death, up from 368 in 2000.

The numbers of homicides committed by women and teenage girls — whether black or white — were relatively few, the Northeastern study found.

Shooting deaths rising for black teenagers 12/28/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 2:35pm]

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