Understanding and Responding to Girl’s Delinquency

Topics: Juvenile delinquency, Crime, Criminology Pages: 10 (3452 words) Published: October 4, 2009
Understanding and Responding to Girl’s Delinquency
Jennifer Hester
Columbia College
PSYC 260
September 27, 2009
Few studies have examined which girls become delinquent or why; and little is known about how well girls respond to interventions that have been traditionally designed with boys in mind. According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, from 1991 to 2000, arrests of girls increased more, or decreased less, than those of boys for the same offenses. By 2004, girls accounted for 30 percent of juvenile arrests. This apparent trend raises a number of questions, including whether it reflects an increase in girls' delinquency or changes in society's responses to girls' behavior. Who is the delinquent girl, including the patterns and trends of female delinquency? Why is she delinquent?

How and why do patterns of girls' delinquency differ from boys? What is the juvenile justice system's (and other systems') response to girls' delinquency? What are the life consequences for delinquent girls?

Understanding and Responding to Girl’s Delinquency
A steady rise in crime among women since the 1980s spurred the research, which found a firm link between abuse and criminal behavior. An alarming 75 to 95 percent of girls (age 14 to 18) in the justice system are former victims of abuse. Such abuse often results in a very low sense of self-worth for young women. The majority of crimes young women commit, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), are simple assault and illegal substance abuse. Young women are more likely than young men to commit the status offense of running away and to become involved in prostitution and commercialized vice. The NIJ reported that the average age a young woman becomes involved in prostitution is 14. Female Juvenile Delinquent Programs

Why Are Girls’ Needs Different?
These shared characteristics of at-risk adolescent females are identified as follows: • Age 13 to 18 years
• History of victimization, especially physical, sexual, and emotional abuse • Academic failure, truancy, and dropout
• Repeated status offenses, especially running away
• History of unhealthy dependent relationships, especially with older males • Mental health issues, including history of substance abuse • Over-representation among communities of color
Need for physical safety and healthy physical development {text:list-item}
Need for trust, love, respect, validation from caring adults to foster healthy emotional development and form positive relationships {text:list-item}
Need for positive female role models to develop healthy identity as a woman {text:list-item}
Need for safety to explore sexuality at own pace for healthy sexual development {text:list-item}
Need to belong, to feel competent and worthy
Girls get into trouble more quietly. In most cases, they were victims themselves before they became offenders (Girls Inc., 1996). When girls are angry, frightened, or unloved, they are more likely to strike inward. They may hurt themselves by abusing drugs, prostituting their bodies, starving, or even mutilating themselves. Because girls in crisis are more likely to threaten their own well-being, they may not seem dangerous to society. As a result, their needs have been overlooked and undertreated (Chesney-Lind, 1998). Girls in trouble have been the afterthought of a juvenile justice system designed to deal with boys. SAGE

1992. The SAGE Project, Inc was founded by Norma Hotaling, when she extended an experienced and compassionate hand to prostitutes who were on the streets or in jail. She connected with other survivors of sexual exploitation, and began building community alliances to foster her mission of raising awareness about and ending Commercial Sexual Exploitation...

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