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Causes and Correlates of Girls' Delinquency

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This Office of Justice Programs’ publication presents findings on strategies to reduce or prevent girls’ involvement in delinquency and violence.
The Girls Study Group was convened to establish a theoretical and empirical foundation to guide the development, testing, and dissemination of strategies to reduce or prevent girls’ involvement in delinquency and violence. Findings show that arrests of girls increased more (or decreased less) than arrests of boys for most types of offenses. By 2004, girls accounted for 30 percent of all juvenile arrests. Results show that factors such as economic disadvantage, exposure to violence, experiences with physical and sexual child abuse and maltreatment, and lack of positive parental supervision affect the development of delinquency for both girls and boys. Early puberty, coupled with stressors such as conflict with parents and involvement with delinquent (and often older) male peers, is a risk factor unique to girls. To understand and address girls’ delinquency these risk factors must be addressed. Finally, two aspects of the justice system also merit examination: arrest policies that widen the net (especially those dealing with conflicts between adolescent girls and their parents) and detention of girls because community-based alternatives are lacking. Data were collected from the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1991 to 2000. Endnotes and references
Date Created: August 11, 2014