ATLANTA — In Phoenix, they're terrorized by not one but two serial killers. In Boston, homicides are at a 10-year high. And with 14 murders since July 1, the nation's capital has declared a crime emergency.
The latest preliminary FBI statistics show murders in the U.S. jumped 4.8 percent last year while overall violent crime was up 2.5 percent.
And in many communities the upsurge is attributed to juveniles.
"We have a youth problem," says St. Paul, Minn., Police Chief John Harrington.
In St. Paul, where murders are up 20 percent, Harrington is seeing an increasing number of criminal kids.
"We are seeing them out on the streets later and later at night, and they are themselves into more and more difficulties," he says.
In Washington's upscale Georgetown area last weekend, a British man died after his throat was slashed. Among the arrested: a 15-year-old.
"Juvenile arrests are up 13.2 percent over last year," Washington Police Chief Charles Ramsey says.
Crime experts say America has been distracted by the war on terror.
"A lot of the resources devoted have been shifted over from hometown security to homeland security," says James Fox, a criminologist with Northeastern University.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino agrees.
"What happened is a lot of those community groups that we used to have don't exist today because the funding is not there," Menino says.
Experts say the solution is to return to what worked in the 1990s when crime rates plummeted.
"We need to go back to the hard work of crime control, cops and crime prevention, youth programs," Menino says. "They work, but it takes time and money."
As one law enforcement analyst put it, "Either we pay for programs now or pay for victims later."
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints