Monterey, Madera, and San Francisco Counties Have California’s Highest Youth Homicide Victimization Rates

For Release: Thursday, November 5, 2015
Para la versión en español haga “click” aquí

Annual study finds homicide was the second leading cause of death for California youth ages 10 to 24

Washington, DC — Monterey County has the highest homicide victimization rate for Californians ages 10 to 24, followed by Madera County, San Francisco County, Alameda County, and Merced County, a new study released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) finds.

The annual study, Lost Youth: A County-by-County Analysis of 2013 California Homicide Victims Ages 10 to 24, analyzes unpublished data from the California Department of Justice Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). The study ranks California’s counties by their homicide victimization rates for young people 10 to 24 years old.

This is the fifth consecutive year that the VPC has released Lost Youth. The ranking information presented in the study applies to 2013, the most recent year for which data was available at the time of research. The study is funded with the support of The California Wellness Foundation.

The study finds that homicide — predominantly involving a firearm — was the second leading cause of death for California youth and young adults ages 10 to 24. For this age group, homicide was the leading cause of death for blacks, the second leading cause of death for Hispanics, and the fourth leading cause of death for whites and Asian/Pacific Islanders.

Firearms — especially handguns — were by far the most common weapons used to kill youth and young adults ages 10 to 24. Statewide, of the homicides for which the murder weapon could be identified, 83 percent of homicide victims died by gunfire. Of these, 69 percent were killed with a handgun.

“Most of California’s young homicide victims die by gunfire. Comprehensive efforts to reduce youth homicide should take into account the role played by firearms, including what types of weapons are most frequently used and where they come from,” states VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “Such information, along with localized data, can aid in the prevention and intervention efforts of communities across the state.”

Below are the 10 California counties with the highest homicide victimization rates for youth and young adults ages 10 to 24:


Monterey County has ranked first in the state for four out of the five years that the VPC has published Lost Youth. However, the county’s per capita homicide victimization rate for this age group has dropped from 31.24 in 2009 to 23.48 in 2013, a decrease of 25 percent.

The study also features detailed analyses of homicide victimization for this age group in each of the top 10 counties. It includes figures on gender, race/ethnicity, most common weapons, victim to offender relationship, circumstances, and location.

The study calls for violence prevention strategies that place a priority on increasing understanding of the types of firearms utilized in the homicides of youth and young adults and how such weapons are obtained. The study also cites “the continuing urgent need for tailored, localized approaches to reducing youth homicide that integrate prevention and intervention while engaging local leaders and community stakeholders.”

Below is additional background on youth homicide victimization in the ENTIRE STATE:

•    In 2013, there were 653 homicide victims in California ages 10 to 24, at a rate of 8.22 per 100,000.

•    Of the 653 victims, 90 percent were male and 10 percent were female. For homicides in which the race of the victim was identified, 49 percent were Hispanic, 36 percent were black, 11 percent were white, and 3 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander.

•    The homicide victimization rate for black youth in California was 48.12 per 100,000. That is nearly 16 times higher than the homicide victimization rate for white youth, at 3.05 per 100,000. The homicide victimization rate for Hispanic youth was 8.21 per 100,000, more than two and a half times higher than the rate for white victims.

•    The homicide victimization rate for black males in this age group was 86.76 per 100,000. For Hispanic males it was 14.28 per 100,000, for white males it was 4.88 per 100,000, and for Asian/Pacific Islander males it was 3.28 per 100,000. The homicide victimization rate for black females in this age group was 7.17 per 100,000. For Hispanic females it was 1.80 per 100,000, for white females it was 1.09 per 100,000, and for Asian/Pacific Islander females it was 0.64 per 100,000.

•    For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 38 percent of the victims were killed by someone they knew and 46 percent were killed by strangers. An additional 15 percent were identified as gang members.

•    The overwhelming majority of homicides of California youth and young adults were not related to any other felony crime. For the homicides in which the circumstances between the victim and offender could be identified, 80 percent were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 60 percent were identified as gang-related.

•    For homicides in which the location could be determined, 52 percent occurred on a street, a sidewalk, or in a parking lot. Seventeen percent occurred in the home of the victim or offender, 11 percent occurred at another residence, and 8 percent occurred in a vehicle.

The study calculates the youth homicide victimization rate by dividing the total number of youth homicide victims by the total population of youth ages 10 to 24, and multiplying the result by 100,000. This is the standard and accepted method of comparing fatal levels of gun violence.

To help ensure more stable rates, only counties with a population of at least 25,000 youth and young adults between the ages of 10 to 24 are included. The selected counties account for 98 percent of homicide victims ages 10 to 24 in California (653 out of 667 victims) and 98 percent of California’s population ages 10 to 24 (7,945,545 out of 8,114,777) for 2013.

To view the full study, please visit:

To view the full study in Spanish, please visit:



The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Created in 1992 as a private, independent foundation, The California Wellness Foundation’s mission is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention.

Media Contact:
Georgia Seltzer
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