State-Level Data on Juvenile Delinquency and Violence, Mental-Health and Psychotropic-Medication Related Issues, and School Accountability, United States, 1990-2014

Resource Type
Dataset : administrative records data, census/enumeration data, survey data
  • Tcherni-Buzzeo, Maria
Other Title
  • Archival Version (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Publication Place
Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
Funding Reference
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice
Free Keywords
Schema: ICPSR
children; delinquent behavior; disabilities; juvenile offenders; mental health; poverty; prescription drugs; states (USA); students; supplemental security income; violence
  • Abstract

    These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed. The research project has tested a possible explanation for the Great American Crime Decline of the 1990s and especially 2000s: the increasing rates at which psychotropic drugs are prescribed, especially to children and adolescents. Psychotropic drugs are often prescribed to youth for mental health conditions that involve disruptive and impulsive behaviors and learning difficulties. The effects of these drugs are thus expected to lead to the decrease in the juveniles' involvement in delinquency and violence. The effects of two legislative changes are hypothesized to have contributed to the increased prescribing of psychotropic drugs to children growing up in families in poverty: 1) changes in eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that made it possible for poor children to qualify for additional financial assistance due to mental health conditions (1990 and 1996), and 2) changes in school accountability rules following the passage of No Child Left Behind Act (2002) that put pressure on schools in some low-income areas to qualify academically challenged students as having ADHD or other learning disabilities. The objectives of the project are: 1) to assemble a data set, using state-level data from various publicly available sources, containing information about trends in juvenile delinquency and violence, trends in psychotropic drug prescribing to children and adolescents, and various control variables associated with these two sets of trends; 2) to test the proposed hypotheses about the effect of increasing psychotropic medication prescribing to children and adolescents on juvenile delinquency and violence, using the assembled data set; and 3) to disseminate the scientific knowledge gained through this study among criminal justice researchers, psychiatric and public health scientists, as well as among a wider audience of practitioners and the general public. This collection includes one SPSS file (Dataset_NIJ_GRANT_2014-R2-CX-0003_DV-IV_3-29-17.sav; n=1,275, 113 variables) and one Word syntax file (doc36775-0001_syntax.docx).
  • Abstract

    The purpose of this research project is to determine if the increasing rates at which psychotropic drugs are prescribed, especially to children and adolescents, contributed to the Great American Crime Decline of the 1990s and 2000s.
  • Methods

    The dataset was assembled to test the hypothesis that increased prescribing of psychotropic medications to children and adolescents contributes to the ongoing declines in juvenile delinquency and violence, especially as these declines have continued in the 2000s. Additional control variables related to each of the areas specified above as well as sociodemographic controls are included in the dataset.
  • Methods

    Dependent variables: Uniform Crime Reports (URC)-based data estimates for crime rates by crime type for each state, produced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through weighting and data imputation, are used as a measure of crime in general, not specifically juvenile crime.; Juvenile-to-adult arrest ratios by crime type calculated based on UCR-reported arrest data . Even though the interpretation of these ratios and their changes over time is not straightforward, they provide a useful measure to establish which types of crime can approximate juvenile offending patterns.; A set of self-report-based measures of delinquency and violence from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) data. A percentage of public high school students who reported "having been in a physical fight at least once during the previous 12 months" is one of the most direct measures of juvenile delinquency/violence and the one that proved most useful for data analyses, even though it was only available for select years and states (between 2003 and 2013). Other YRBSS measures include alcohol use, marijuana use, and weapon carrying among public high school students. Additionally, a measure of firearm incidents at schools is available from the U.S. Department of Education.; Estimated rate of juvenile homicide offending was derived from Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data on solved homicides/known offenders: a proportion of offenders ages 12-24 among all offenders arrested for homicide was calculated and then weighted by the inverse of clearance rates (calculated by Hargrove, 2015) and by the population share of age-matched population.; Independent variables: Two measures were constructed based on data for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients under age 18 receiving federal benefits for non-retardation mental impairments (henceforth, NRMI): a) rate of such SSI recipients per 1000 aged-matched population, and b) percentage of children in poverty who are such SSI recipients. Data were provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in response to my Freedom of Information Request (FOIR) and available for years 2002-2013.; Public school students ages 3-21 with disabilities, i.e. served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as percentage of enrollment are provided by the U.S. Department of Education and available for years 1990, 2000, and 2005-2014. Since changes in child disability rates are mostly driven by mental health issues, or learning disabilities (Pastor and Reuben, 2002; Wagner et al., 2005; Pastor, 2009), the variation in percentage of students with disabilities can be used as a proxy for children with mental health issues receiving additional school-based services. Also, unlike the measures for SSI recipients with NRMI, the school-based disability variable has an added advantage of applying to all children, not just the ones in poverty.; Mental health issues / use of psychotropic medication measures are derived from two longitudinal surveys - National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), with data available for select years between 2002 and 2014, and National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH), with data available for 2003, 2007, and 2011 - and include variables like percentage of children ages 12-17 who reported having at least one major depressive episode in the previous year (NSDUH), percentage of children ages 12-17 meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria for dependence or abuse of illicit drugs or alcohol (NSDUH), percentage of children ages 2-17 currently taking ADD/ADHD medications as reported by parents (NSCH), and several other related measures.; Control variables: School accountability measures introduced by states before the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 account for the pressure put on schools in some states to improve their average scores by pushing certain low-performing categories of students into the disability designation and excluding their scores from the school averages.; Relatedly, data on psychotropic medication laws are included - these laws were introduced by several states to make it more difficult for school personnel to suggest to parents that their children may need to be psychiatrically diagnosed and medicated and, alternatively, easier for the parents to refuse psychotropic medications for their kids.; Sociodemographic controls include several variables that previous research literature on juvenile delinquency and violence suggests are consistently important in impacting crime/delinquency outcomes: percentage of children in poverty, divorce rate, percentage of African-Americans, and percent urban population.;
  • Abstract


    • DS1: Dataset
Temporal Coverage
  • Time period: 1990--2014
  • 1990 / 2014
  • Collection date: 2015-01--2017-03
  • 2015-01 / 2017-03
Geographic Coverage
  • District of Columbia
  • United States
Sampled Universe
U.S. states for the years between 1990 and 2014 when data are available, for the following: juvenile delinquency and violence, mental health issues and psychotropic medication use among children and adolescents, and relevant control variables associated with these two sets of measures at the state level. Smallest Geographic Unit: State
A state-level panel data set has been assembled that includes measures by year by state (1990 through 2014) when data are available for the following topics: juvenile delinquency and violence, mental health issues and psychotropic medication use among children and adolescents, and relevant control variables associated with these two sets of measures at the state level. The general logic of the method is to exploit the differences in state trends in order to estimate the effects of remediation of children's mental health issues on state-level changes in juvenile delinquency and violence.
Funding institution(s): United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2014-R2-CX-0003).
This version of the study is no longer available on the web. If you need to acquire this version of the data, you have to contact ICPSR User Support (
Alternative Identifiers
  • 36775 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR36775.v1

Update Metadata: 2019-06-25 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2019-06-25