Youth violence plagues California, but encouraging signs emerging

Tia Ghose (California Watch, The Modesto Bee) | January 16, 2012

Monterey County had the highest youth homicide rate in California in 2010, followed by Alameda County, according to an analysis by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group focused on curbing firearm violence.

Stanislaus County was ranked 17th among the 35 counties in the youth violence study. Only counties with at least 25,000 residents ages 10 to 24 were included in the study.

Merced County was ranked fifth in 2010, a jump from the ninth spot the previous year. San Joaquin County was ranked No. 3, with 30 homicides in 2010.

The statewide study found that firearms, mostly handguns, were the weapon of choice in the homicides.

“We’ve seen an increase in the propensity for young people to be involved in gun violence, in terms of robberies and gang activity,” said Lt. Rick Armendariz, a Modesto police spokesman. “We do see an alarming amount of guns on the street, the majority of them in the possession of gang members.”

Josh Sugarmann, executive director at the Violence Policy Center, said the youth homicide rates “show the urgent need for effective violence- prevention strategies that stress tailored, localized approaches that engage local leaders and community stakeholders.”

The homicide rate for 10- to 24-year-olds in Monterey County, which includes Salinas, was 24.36 per 100,000, nearly triple the statewide rate. Alameda County, which includes Oakland, had a rate of 18.41 per 100,000.

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