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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2023

Historically, girls have been less likely than boys to become involved in the juvenile justice system. Increases in the proportion of cases involving girls during the 1990s led to increased attention on the needs of girls in the system and on how their needs may differ from boys'. Although girls are still underrepresented in most stages of the juvenile justice system, their representation is larger today than in the past. This remains the case even during large decreases in the number of both boys and girls involved in the justice system during the past few decades. Some researchers have posited that girls' unique needs are not always met when they become involved in the juvenile justice system because of the emphasis on serving boys, who are overrepresented in almost all areas of juvenile justice. Thus, several gender-specific approaches have been designed, implemented, and evaluated. This review summarizes trends in the involvement of girls in the juvenile justice system, how their contact with the system has changed over time, their unique risk factors and needs, theoretical frameworks explaining girls' involvement in delinquency and the juvenile justice system, and interventions that may lead to positive outcomes for girls.

Date Published: August 1, 2023