Thursday, January 28, 1999

Report: Increase
in juvenile crime rate
caused by ‘bullying’

By Rod Ohira


A rise in juvenile robbery arrests is due mainly to increased reporting of "hijackings" by public school administrators, says a state attorney general's report.

The 39-page report, "Juvenile Robbery Arrests in Honolulu -- An Overview," notes that a 106 percent increase in robbery arrests between 1991 and 1997 reflects more "bullying" incidents than hard-core street crimes.

Faculty members who witness offenses, such as hijackings, are required by law to report them to the principal. If police are called, a hijacking would be classified as a robbery.

"Existing research on the problem of juvenile robbery suggests that it fits the low-yield, criminal mischief category of offenses that particularly appeals to young people," says the report, released yesterday.

It adds that youth are drawn to robbery because of a popular culture stressing the importance of name-brand clothing, gold jewelry and expensive electronic devices.

During a public discussion of the report yesterday, Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle took issue with the "low-yield, criminal mischief" description, noting that "even if the offense doesn't make money, it doesn't mean it's not terrifying."

The study was conducted by the University of Hawaii's Youth Gang Project in collaboration with Honolulu police, the Juvenile Justice Information Committee, Department of Education, and the state attorney general's office.

In researching the nature of robberies, the study found:

Bullet The vast majority of those arrested for juvenile robberies come from economically marginal ethnic groups, notably Hawaiian, part-Hawaiian and Samoan, and that these groups accounted for three-quarters of 125 arrests in 1991 and two-thirds of 258 arrests in 1997.

Bullet Arrests of girls for robbery increased from 5 percent in 1991 to 17 percent in 1997.

Bullet Thirty-one percent of victims in 1991 were Caucasian youths, followed by Hawaiians (25 percent), Filipinos (14 percent) and Asians (12 percent). In 1997, Caucasians and Asians comprised the largest group, each at 24 percent.

Bullet The median value of items stolen in 1991 was $19. It was $10 in 1997.

Bullet When a weapon was used, it was more likely to be a firearm in 1991 and knife in 1997.

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