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Access and Relevance of Data Sources CDC to the Criminal Justice System


Center for disease control and prevention (CDC)

The centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) is a government-run agency that aims at promoting public health and awareness. Though this agency may at first glance have no allusion associated with the criminal justice system, deeper scrutiny suggests that it is actually a very potent contrivance to align with criminal justice and criminology. On their website under the locale that exclusively deals with Injury, Violence, and Safety, a sharp criminologist will discern an immense amount of information that is pertinent to criminal justice and criminology. A voluminous substratum of up-to-date statistics, current, and emerging violence patterns are just but a few of the amenities CDC has to offer to the criminal justice system’s repertoire.

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The coherent perspective of two topics distinctively comes into focus due to their relevance to criminal justice and criminology. These topics are:

  • Youth violence
  • Child maltreatment


Youth violence

Youth violence is the harmful or destructive behavior precipitated by the intentional use of force that may start in early childhood but manifests in young adults. This aggressive behavior is directed to another person, group, or community resulting to harm physically or psychologically which may lead to either under-development or death of the victim Such behavior may include but is not limited to bullying, robbery, assault, and rape,(CDC, 2009).

Forms of youth violence

Pretensions that youth violence ethos is plainly a physical affair is an untenable fallacy laden with disparity. Studies have shown that youth violence can take many forms, three being the focal features. They are physical, psychological, and lately electronic. Physical youth violence is more extensive than the other two forms of violence but it is by no way superior to the rest. It entails the bodily harm of a victim by slapping, kicking, biting, or hitting, the aim is to cause physical harm and pain, (CDC, 2009).

Psychological violence is more subtle than but just as effective as physical violence. This involves insulting, spreading rumors, threatening, or blackmailing the victim. This leaves the victim with constant fear or unrest leading to psychological harm to the victim. On the other hand, Electronic violence is the use of the internet and other forms of electronic media to cause harm or embarrassment to the victim. This could also act like threats, rumors or aggression relayed in chat rooms, blogs, short messages, instant messages, email, or dispersing embarrassing information like real or edited pictures and videos of the victim through popular networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and You-tube.

Causes of youth violence

Causes of youth violence vary from one individual to the other, but over the years, there has been compounding data that gives youth violence a structure of decipherable extraction. One of the leading indicators to this form of violence lies the individuals themselves and it is attributed to low self-esteem. According to (CDC, 2009) this can be underpinned by a variety of perplexities among them being orphaned, in-born aggression, drug abuse, cultism and an antisocial mind-set, exposure to violence at home, poor intellectual performance, low IQ and discrepancies in societal cognitive functions in the brain and victimization, (CDC, 2009).

The family unit or primary caregivers of the young adult have also been found to inaugurate youth violence in a multiplicity of ways. Among them is parental neglect, drug abuse among family members, rigorous restraint, domestic violence, poor guidance, extremist and antisocial views instilled into the youth and paucity. It is also worthy to note that peer association is also a supplementary dynamic to the hostility among juveniles and it is under this category that most of the young American youth fall prey to. This comprises of attachment to gangs, cults or sects, association with aberrant youth and rejection. Perpetrators of violent acts are lionized by the peers making it a fad.

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Though society is victim to and carries the burden of youth violence, it is partly responsible for this appalling behavior. Lack conventional jobs, poverty, political influence, high echelons of felony and insecurity and lack of a coherent environment are just but a few of the innumerable edifices society offers to propound youth violence, (CDC, 2009).

Prevention of youth violence

Preventive measures instigated against youth violence by the community could include community policing, gang prevention programmes, monitor alcohol consumption, and promote extracurricular activities. Parents are encouraged to counsel their children at a young age, undergo family therapy, introduce mentoring programmes and initiate peer counseling. Individuals should go through social development programmes, individual counseling, vocational training, enrollment into the military and provide motivation to encourage them pursue higher education, (CDC 2009).

Sources of youth violence data

Data and information sources are of federal nature. National Electronic Injury Surveillance Systems-All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) provides national data on all types and causes of nonfatal injuries treated in U.S hospital emergency rooms. National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) is a system that gathers and shares data on violent deaths, School-Associated Violent Deaths. It is a study that examines school-based violence and evaluates risks and prevention measures. Another source is the School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS), which is a survey conducted nationally to assess school policies that tackle violence. There is also the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) database that provides injury related transience data. The other source is the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) that investigates health risks involved in the mortality and injury of young people in the U.S. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), Department of Justice provides data on crime, criminals, victims in the U.S, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) publishes an annual summary of crime in the U.S and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) provides data on juvenile offenders, victims and juveniles involved in the justice system.

Child maltreatment

This is any action or inaction undertaken by the parent or caregiver of any child under the age of 18, which leads to the harming or exposure to harm of that child. There are four forms of child abuse which are; Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse and Emotional Abuse.

Neglect is the failure to provide the child with the basic needs like food, shelter, clothing, education, protection from harm and medical care while Physical abuse is the intentional use of aggressive actions toward a child that leads to the body of the child being injured. These actions could be hitting, flogging, kicking, slapping and any other excessive use of force.

Sexual abuse is the engagement of a child in sexual activities. It consists of molesting, raping and exposing the child to pornographic material on the other hand; Emotional abuse is the use of words and behaviors that harm a child’s self-esteem and their emotional health. They include shaming, embarrassing, threatening, rejection and withholding affection. (CDC, 2009).

Causes of child maltreatment

Child maltreatment in fundamentally induced by stress. Causes of maltreatment vary in different settings but some of the outstanding causes that can lead to the prevalence of abuse include; poverty, unwanted and teenage pregnancies, parents with a tight working schedule, alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, poor health and mental disorders. Communal factors may include insecure neighborhoods, racial tension in the community and disputes, (CDC, 2009).

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Prevention of child maltreatment

Prevention of this vice can be implemented by educating parents on postnatal care, introduction of parenting classes, encourage group therapy and clinical counseling among the parents. The community can contribute by reporting cases of child maltreatment, providing encouragement and support to young or poor mothers and avoid discrimination. The ultimate goal is to edify good communication skills for better communication between parent and child, apt discipline practices and persuade improved retort to a child’s corporal, psychological and expressive necessities.

Sources of child maltreatment data

Sources for the data and information are both federal and non-federal. Federal sources are National Center for Health Statistics that provides data about the health status of children in the US, the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) that collects and shares data regarding violent deaths, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) database that provides data on injury related deaths and the Administration for Children and Families that provides data on child maltreatment nationally. Non-federal sources are, The National Maternal Child Health Center for Child Death Review that provides data on child deaths and the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) that facilitates data exchange among researchers in the child maltreatment field, (CDC, 2009).


Important factors

A volley of statistics according to (CDC, 2009) shows that child maltreatment is rampant than is reported to the media, police or social services. For example in 2007 alone, 1,760 children aged 0-17 died from abuse and neglect. Protective services that same year found out that 794,000 children were victims of abuse. Girls were at a higher risk of maltreatment with a 52% chance as compared to boys 48%. Infants had a 76% chance of dying due to maltreatment.

A number of perturbing figures show just how extensive and potent youth violence is in the US. For example, 5,958 young people between 10 and 24 years were murdered in 2006 in the US alone. This put homicide as the second cause of death among youths of that age group. Males were more prone to violence related homicide with an 87% death rate against 13% for the females between 10 and 24. 84% of these homicides were committed with a firearm. To put this into perspective, a nationwide survey among the youth in grade 9 to 12 was carried out in 2007, (CDC, 2009). Statistics reveal that 18% of the participants had actually carried a weapon to school with 5.2% carrying a gun 30 days preceding the survey. From 1999 to 2006, 65% of school-associated homicides were as a result of gunshot wounds, 27% due to stabbing and 12% due to beating.

It is also interesting to note that homicide is the leading cause of death among 10-24 year old African Americans and the second leading cause of death among Hispanics. This is a clear indication that society has a major role to play in curbing youth violence.

Significance of the information

Statistical data has a very important role to play in the criminal justice system. Criminal justice professionals like the police have a unique interest in youth violence to help establish emerging and sustained patterns of violence in different jurisdictions so as to come up with practical policies that will help curb or reduce such cases. This could be to increase police patrols, jail offenders or plant informants to get better information on the area, (CDC, 2009).

Social services find statistical data on child maltreatment of importance to enable them know of their effectiveness. Since most child maltreatment cases go unnoticed by social services, they will have to put in place rigorous mechanisms to help them enhance their investigation capacity.

Juvenile criminal data will help the criminal justice professionals better understand the magnitude of the violence by looking at the number of young adults currently in the justice system and the number of deaths within a specific time frame. This data can then be used to determine the cause of violence and help them find solutions like putting up vocational centers for the youth, encouraging community policing and community education, (CDC, 2009).

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Data on child mortality rate and child maltreatment will assist social services in providing the government with accurate information on the need for funding, more workers or increased mandate. They may also advice the government on concise laws and policies that should be implemented in order to curb the behavior. A sudden influx in youth violent cases in a given neighborhood is a strong indicator of an underlying problem. Police can use statistical data to ascertain this and consequently launch investigations while broadening their scope of intelligence. More often than not, they usually discover that drugs or cheap liquor are involved. Government agencies like the FBI use such statistics to profile criminals. They take into account the neighborhood where the suspect comes from, race and past criminal records involving violence to narrow in on a suspect who is likely to have committed a given crime. This saves them the time and resources that could have been wasted in prolonged investigations.


CDC (2009). World Report on Violence and Health. Web.

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