Nineteen young people were victims of homicide in Santa Clara County in 2011, a statistic that ranks the county's youth homicide rate 19th in the state, a study released Wednesday reported.
Seven young people were killed the year prior, according to "Lost Youth: A County-by-County Analysis of 2011 California Homicide Victims Ages 10 to 24.” The annual study by the Violence Policy Center analyzes unpublished California Department of Justice Supplementary Homicide Report data.
In 2011, 631 youths and young adults were killed in California.
Overall, the youth homicide rate in the state is declining, from 31.24 per 100,000 in 2009 to 16.96 per 100,000 in 2011, the study reported.
In Santa Clara County, the number of youths killed in homicides doubled from 2010 to 2011. However, the 2011 homicide total was similar to the figure in 2009, the first year the "Lost Youth" study was conducted.
Santa Clara County's youth homicide rate of 5.54 per 100,000 ranks the area 19th out of 35 counties included in the study. California counties without a population of at least 25,000 youth and young adults between the ages of 10 to 24 were omitted.Youth and Young Adult Homicides 2011 2010 2009 County Deaths County Rank by Rate Deaths County Rank by Rate Deaths County Rank by Rate Marin 1 28 2 20 1 32 Napa 0 30 (tie) 0 31 (tie) 0 35 San Mateo 9 15 9 15 9 17 Santa Clara 19 19 7 27 18 23 Santa Cruz 6 10 6 14 6 15 Sonoma 4 21 0 31 (tie) 2 33
Throughout the state, firearms—usually handguns—are the weapon of choice in the homicides of youth and young adults, according to the study.
- Of the 625 homicides for which the murder weapon could be identified, 83 percent of victims died by gunfire. Of these, 73 percent were killed with handguns.
- There were 70 victims (11 percent) killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 11 victims (2 percent) killed by a blunt object, and 8 victims (1 percent) killed by bodily force.
The study also shows that there are vast demographic disparities: in California, young African-Americans are more than 18 times more likely to be murdered than young whites; young Hispanics are more than four times more likely to be murdered than young whites.
- 91 percent of homicide victims ages 10-24 in 2011 were male and 9 percent were female.
- 55 percent were Hispanic, 32 percent black, 8 percent white, 5 percent Asian, and less than one percent were “other.”
The victim-to-offender relationship was identified in just over half of the 631 homicides. In those cases, one-third of victims were killed by someone they knew and more than half were murdered by a stranger. Another 15 percent were gang-motivated slayings.
Across the state, San Joaquin County has the most severe youth violence mortality rate, with 35 homicide victims ages 10 to 24, a rate 21.29 per 100,000.
More young people were killed in other, more populous counties, though. Los Angeles County experienced 207 homicide deaths for this age group and, in Northern California, Alameda County was the most violent, with 50 youth killed in homicides, according to the study.
While no homicides were reported in Palo Alto, nearby East Palo Alto and Menlo Park have experienced an ugly gang war that is on-going.