Racial disparities prove stubborn in study of California's young homicide victims

Sacramento County ranks 13th in rate of homicide victims who are 10 to 24

A recent report on youth homicide victims left Sacramento County out of the top 10, but reiterated stubborn disparities when it comes to race and gun violence.

According to the Violence Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based research nonprofit, homicide was the second leading cause of death for Californians between the ages of 10 and 24 in 2013, the last year for which data was available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of California counties with at least 25,000 residents in the above age group, Sacramento County ranked 13th, with 29 homicide victims between the ages of 10 and 24. That's equal to 9.58 homicides per 100,000 10-to-24-year-olds, a rate that fell behind Monterey County, which ranked a dubious first with a 23.48 homicide rate, despite having fewer youth homicides—22—that year. Madera, San Francisco, Alameda and Merced counties rounded out the top five.

Elsewhere in the region, San Joaquin County ranked 10th, El Dorado 27th, Yolo 31st and Placer tied for last place at 32nd.

While the statewide youth homicide rate continued its 13-year decline, a stark racial disparity remained intact. Unlike other races, black youth and young adults are more likely to die as a result of homicide than unintentional injury, the leading cause of death for other races.

That relationship is swapped for Hispanic youth and young adults, for whom homicide is the second leading cause of death, whereas suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-to-24-year-olds who identify as white, Asian/Pacific Islander or American Indian/Alaska Native.

Gun violence was responsible for 91 percent of black youth homicides, compared to 56 percent of white youth homicides.

After dropping to its lowest level in 12 years, the homicide rate for black youth and young adults ticked up in 2013, to 38.10. That’s almost five times the rate of Hispanic youths and nearly 15 times the rate of white youths, who also experienced a small increase in the homicide rate in 2013.