1

Official
Data Source:

According
to the 2011 report from the National Center for Juvenile Justice 5.4% students
in the United States in grades 9 through 12 had carried a weapon on school
property within the past 30 days. Of those 5.4%, 8.2% were male and 2.3% were
female. The same report showed that in Indiana alone 3.7% of the students in
grades 9 through 12 had carried a weapon on school property. Of those 3.7%,
5.8% were male and 1.6% were female, supporting the earlier statistics that
there were more males reported to have carried a weapon on school property than
females. (NCJJ. 2014).

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The
benefits of an official data source are that they compiled by different groups
of law enforcement. This allows for different perspectives on the extent of the
delinquency and the youths involved (Elrod, p20). This provides the numbers
needed to see how many juvenile cases police officers and other agency’s come
into contact with.

The
information found within such reports include the frequency and types of
offences as well as information regarding the offender, such as race, gender,
age, and information on the area where they live (Elrod, p21). This aids in
giving a little more background into the statistics.

Though
data sources such as the UCR have their benefits, they also have several
shortcomings. The UCR depends on law enforcement agencies to gain there
statistics, therefore if a crime isn’t reported to the police it isn’t
represented in the UCR. Many times people aren’t willing to report a crime due
to the seriousness of the crime, relationships to the offender, fear of
retaliation, thinking that “nothing will be done”(Elrod, p28), embarrassment,
or even involvement in criminal behavior that they’d rather the police not find
out about. Any one of the above could result in hesitation to report a crime.
(Elrod, p28).

Another
possible drawback is the variability between jurisdictions. Police have discretion
in deciding what an offense is. The police also experience political pressure to
adjust the crime rate either by increasing it or decreasing it. Policing style
can also effect the UCR statistics. A jurisdiction that is more legalistic may
be more likely to make an arrest where a jurisdiction that is more formal may
be more inclined to take preventive measures. Also if law enforcement in a
specific jurisdiction decide to “crackdown” (Elrod, 28) on a specific crime,
such as prostitution, then it would make sense if the statistics for that crime
were to increase in that jurisdiction. In addition only the most serious
offense is reported in the UCR. The only exception is if arson is involved, it
is always reported. (Elrod, p29).

These
drawbacks lead to misinformation in the actual increase or decrease in juvenile
crime rates. The information found within the UCR is used not only by the
agencies but by the media, who then presents the data to the public there is a
potential for large miscalculations in the juvenile crime rates (Elrod, p31).

Unofficial
Data Sources:

            According to the Youth Risk Behavior’s questionnaire used
by the National Center for Education Statistics regarding United States
students in grades 9 through 12 carrying weapons on school property the numbers
have decreased from 12% in 1993 to 4% in 2015. Like the UCR discussed earlier,
it was found that there is a higher percentage of males than females who had
carried a weapon on school property within the last 30 days. Of those who had
claimed to have carried a weapon on school property, 6% were males while 2%
were females. (YRB, P90).

            According to our text the “extent of delinquency” found
in self-report research is greater than that found in official data sources
such as UCR. A benefit to the self-report research is that there is generally
more information in relation to the crimes committed. In addition, self-reporting
research can provide information to law enforcement that wasn’t already known.
Another benefit is that while UCR data is based on the arrest data,
self-reporting methods do not. Since everyone that is arrested has to be
charged but may not be guilty, this may affect the accuracy of the statistics. (Elrod,
31).

            One drawback to the self-report method is that not
everyone responds and some are missed entirely. In addition to that not all
delinquent offenses are covered in the studies. While more serious offenses are
now included in the surveys, where they were missing before, not all serious
delinquency is included. This leaves room for inaccuracy. There is also no standard
format for the self-reporting studies which makes it difficult to compare the
data. (Elrod, 32).