MARYLAND (DC News Now) — The latest youth crime report by the Maryland Department of Justice Secretary shows violent youth crimes are below pre-pandemic levels and have been declining for more than a decade.

“People are like what has changed about children? The answer could be nothing has changed about children. In fact, in every respect except gun crime, they’re behaving better. Maybe it’s the guns more than just the kids,” said Secretary of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services Vincent Schiraldi.

Between FY2020 and FY2023, overall crimes of violence fell by 16.5%, making up about the same portion of juvenile complaints as they did in 2020.

Within the broad category of violent crime arrests, some specific offenses rose and others fell during this period – for example, carjacking increased by 85.4% and handgun violations rose by nearly 220%.

Gun violence by and against young people is particularly alarming, with non-fatal shooting victimization of young people quadrupling statewide over the past decade.

Schiraldi details that incarceration, while an important tool for accountability, isn’t the only solution.

“Incarceration itself is not necessarily the best strategy. We know this because for ten years before the pandemic, Maryland was specifically reducing incarceration and juvenile crime was declining at the same time,” said Schiraldi.

The report also finds racial disparities with youth of color being overrepresented in Maryland’s juvenile justice system both as incarcerated youth and victims compared to their white counterparts.

“When young people break the law and they’re poor and kids of color, they deserve the same kinds of considerations that white children would get and we’re not seeing that data,” said Schiraldi.