Objective: To study racial disparities and the weapons used to commit youth homicide in New Jersey.
Methods: The homicide data were obtained from New Jersey death certificate files, 1989-1997.
Results: There was a statistically significant racial disparity in homicide incidence rates in this study. The homicide incidence rates was 10 times and four times higher among African-American than white, adolescents (age 15-19 years) and young adults (age 20-24 years) (respectively). Youth (15-24 years) homicide incidence rate correlated with New Jersey's 21 counties' high urbanization index and with low level of education. The ratio of male/female homicide incidence rates was 6:4 for adolescents and young adults, respectively. African-American adolescent homicide rates increased consistently from 1989 to 1997. Sixty percent of all youth homicide was committed by firearms.
Conclusion: Significant youth homicide racial and gender disparities exist in New Jersey's 21 counties. If the existing trend of homicide violent crime victimization continues in New Jersey, African-American teenagers will soon become the leading segment of the population to be murdered in the state. Sixty percent of the youth homicide victimization was committed by firearms; and correlation analyses of New Jersey's 21 counties suggested that low levels of education and high levels of urbanization provided an environment of key risk factors for homicide.