The murder rate among children and young adults has fallen to a 30-year low, although African Americans and young men and boys remain particularly vulnerable.

The fall in murder rates among young Americans began early in the Clinton administration and continued through the next two decades, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The murder rate among youth had risen 83 percent from 1985 to 1993, from 8.7 per 100,000 to 15.9, but then began to drop. Beginning in 1994, the murder rate had dropped 41 percent by 1999 and continued to drop an average of 1 percent per year for the next decade, throughout the Bush administration.

In 2010, 5,000 Americans between the ages of 10 and 24 were murdered, causing an estimated $9 billion in lost economic productivity and medical costs. The murder rate was highest among black youths at 28.8 per 100,000.

"In 1994, we began to see a promising decline," Corinne David-Ferdon, a behavioral scientist at the CDC, told reporters. "The decline has continued, and we reached a 30-year low in 2010, with a rate of 7.5 per 100,000," she said.

"In 2000 to 2010, we were pleased to see the decline continue, but we also saw that the decline has slowed," David-Ferdon added. "The decline particularly slowed for the people that are at higher risk for these homicides, which include males and African-American youths."

However, "despite the 30-year low, homicide still ranks among the top three leading causes of death for youth," David-Ferdon said. "The good news is that prevention is possible. We do have comprehensive primary prevention approaches, which means that we stop violence before it starts."

Other experts on the frontlines of America's emergency medical system agreed with the government's assessment.

"This is a public health crisis," Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told reporters. "Even though the numbers are showing some improvement, there are high-risk groups that still need more focused attention."

Glatter said youth murder rates might fall further with more family interventions and after-school programs. "Family dinners are still important. They are an ideal time to help parents focus on the lives of their children," he said. "We need to not be complacent with any improvement in rates seen overall, because these high-risk groups make up the bulk of the concerning trend we are seeing," Glatter noted.

Researchers also noted that gun murders declined slower than murders by other means. During the past 30 years, the rate of firearm murders among youth ages 10-24 was 3.7 times higher than the rate of homicide by other means.

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.