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Example research essay topic: Juvenile Justice System Juvenile Delinquency - 2,206 words

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Juvenile Delinquency and Status Offenses in Girls: Prevention and Intervention Introduction Much attention has been given to the issue of male juvenile delinquency, while delinquency in girls is often underestimated. In fact, female juvenile offenders display an understudied and often misunderstood population within the juvenile justice system (Peters 76). The juvenile justice system that traditionally has examined the anti-social delinquent behavior in males has been recently challenged with the necessity to address the overwhelming increase in the rates of juvenile delinquency cases in girls. As it is stated in "Female Offenders in the Juvenile Justice System Summary report, conducted by E. Poe-Yamagota and A.

J. Button (1996) there was a significant increase "in violent crime index offenses by female offenders. " (Peters 76) Although the U. S. jurisdictions have been confronted with an increasing adolescent female population, gender-specific services are still limited, especially in relation to the girls incarcerated in secure juvenile facilities (Peters 76). For the last decades, juvenile justice professionals have placed much emphasis on how to deal with and address the needs of female adolescents in the juvenile justice system.

However, in order to develop efficient strategies, it is important to understand the nature of female juvenile delinquency. The present memorandum addresses the problem of the increasing involvement of girls in delinquent behavior and status offenses. The study gives an overview of the problem and some possible solutions, and discusses the differences in delinquent behavior between the sexes. Finally, the present study proposes prevention and intervention programs that might be designed to reflect such differences. Juvenile Delinquency and Status Offenses Several million teenagers commit various delinquent acts each year.

Property and violent crimes are, probably, the most important social problem in the U. S. society. According to the FBI and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), more than 2. 4 million juvenile arrests were done in 2000 (Roberts, 6). However, the real number of cases of juvenile delinquency is unknown. According to approximate calculation, the number of delinquent acts committed by juveniles could reach 13 - 15 million annually, as far as many juvenile crimes go undetected or unreported, or no arrest made (Roberts, 6).

Juvenile delinquency becomes an issue of the day, and the importance of development and implementation of programs and intervention strategies that will be effective in reducing juvenile delinquency and juvenile status offenses cannot be underestimated. Generally, the teenagers are charged with two major types of wrongdoing: status offenses (such as incorrigibility, truancy, running away from home, to mention a few) that are considered to be illegal only for juveniles, and juvenile delinquency offenses (such as forcible rape, auto theft, breaking, entering, etc) that are criminal acts by nature, and for which juveniles would be held accountable if they were adults (Roberts, 7). Violent crimes, if they occur, usually get the most media attention, however, far more prevalent than all kinds of violent juvenile crimes are teenagers committing status offenses or nonviolent property crimes. Juvenile Delinquency in Girls According to the information provided by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, in 2000 approximately 25 per cent of the states misdemeanor and seventeen per cent of its felony arrests were girls (Girls in the Juvenile Justice System). Approximately 50, 000 girls were in contact with the juvenile justice system in California. Despite widespread gender stereotypes, according to which boys are traditionally expected to be violent and aggressive, while the girls are traditionally expected to be well-behaved and passive, juvenile delinquency rates in girls are overwhelmingly high.

At the same time, probably due to lack of research on juvenile delinquency and its origins in girls, there are little or almost no programs or facilities that are developed exclusively for female delinquents. The vast majority of girls are treated with the same strategies and programs that were designed according to research in relation to male delinquents. Yet, it should be taken into consideration that female delinquents have specific needs that are significantly different from that of boys and, therefore, require specifically designed programming and treatment (e. g. , classes for pregnant or parenting teens; treatment for physical, emotional or sexual victimization; and vocational training that is aligned with their interests and includes nontraditional career options" (Girls in the Juvenile Justice System) ). Also, due to gender and behavioral differences between boys and girls, girls require specific programs that will place them in the least restrictive care setting possible. (Girls in the Juvenile Justice System) According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the vast majority of girls entering the system are held liable for nonviolent offenses. So, as it is claimed by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the girls are reported to be involved in 41 per cent of the status offenses, and 23 per cent of the delinquency offenses that got taken to trial in 1996. (Girls in the Juvenile Justice System) At the same time, the vast majority of boys entering the system, are held liable for delinquency offenses.

Therefore, there is an obvious difference between juvenile delinquency cases in boys and girls. Logically, the programs and treatment and prevention strategies should be based on this gender-specific difference and take into account the girls " unique social, emotional, psychological and developmental needs. Therefore, the programs for girls should be tied to the girls' unique needs, should value the female perspective, should take into consideration female development, should empower female delinquents to reach their full human potential, to honor the female experience, and to work effectively to change established attitudes that prevent or discourage girls from recognizing their potential. (Girls in the Juvenile Justice System) As it was already mentioned, the number of female juvenile delinquents has increased drastically in recent years. Despite overall decrease in juvenile crime rates, girls are now the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice population. " (Girls Corrections) The increase in delinquency cases involving females is drastic, with the national rate of girls involvement in the juvenile justice system increased by 83 % between 1988 and 1997 (Girls Corrections).

The same source asserts there is an exponential increase in the number of girls in detention, jail and prisons. (Girls Corrections) At the same time, the approach to treatment and prevention has remained the same or almost with no changes, and is mostly based on the replication of the approach traditionally used for male juvenile offenders. In contrast to males, females are usually arrested for non-violent crimes, basically constituting status offenses, such as truancy, running away or curfew violation, as well as other non-violent offenses, such as substance abuse related crimes or prostitution. According to the study reported by Child Welfare League of America (2004) Girls in the Juvenile Justice System, female juvenile offenders are 170 per cent more than boys to be held liable for status offence violations. According to CJCJ: Girls in the Juvenile Justice System (2008), approximately 50 per cent of all girls are arrested for one of two offenses: running away from home and larceny theft (usually shoplifting). These offenses indicate another important aspect of delinquency in girls.

In contrast to boys, girls are often arrested for non-violent crimes, which are not actual crimes like burglary or robbery. Instead these crimes constitute activities such as running away from home, being beyond parental control. For example, in 1999 girls constituted 60 percent of all juveniles appearing in juvenile courts charged with running away from home, and made up 41 % of all juveniles charged with all status offenses (Part I: Delinquency Among Girls). At the same time, what concerns being charged with criminal offenses, the girls constituted only 23 per cent of those in juvenile court for criminal offenses. (Part I: Delinquency Among Girls) According to the most recent statistic data, 13 percent of the girls were charged with status offenses, compared to 3 per cent of the boys. As it can be easily concluded, the girls are more likely to be arrested for running away from home. In contrast to boys, girls are also more likely to be the victims of sexual abuse.

According to the statistic data, approximately 70 percent of the victims are girls. There is also an assumption that there is an interrelation between the girls delinquency (in this case, running from home) and sexual abuse. Few studies give evidence in support to this fact, stating that 2 / 3 - 3 / 4 of all girls who "find their way into runaway shelters or juvenile detention facilities have been sexually abused. (Part I: Delinquency Among Girls) The same source indicates that there is a high number of girls who experience problems with physical abuse. All these forms of victimization force girls to escape from it by running away. Girls and Juvenile Justice System Once the female offenders are in the juvenile justice system, they are likely to stay in the system because of probation violations, violations of a court order, or a contempt charges, to mention a few. This practice is also referred to as a bootstrapping" practice, and often results in female offenders remaining in the system for extensive periods of time without having committed new offenses. (Girls Corrections) As this occurs, many female delinquents end up in secure detention for these status offense violations. (Girls Corrections) Girls' behavior significantly differs from the boys behavior.

These differences also contribute to differences in delinquent behavior between the sexes. For example, girls have different development issues if compared with boys. Girls are also at significantly higher risk that boys for various problems during their puberty period. In contrast to boys, girls experience higher level of psychological and emotional challenges, and due to physiological and psychosocial differences undertake more active attempts to establish their own identity, to explore their sexuality, to redefine their relationships and bonds with adults, and to develop their own belief systems. Basically, the boys also face all these challenges; however, males' psychology is somewhat stronger than that of girls'. In contrast to boys, girls are more influenced by traditional social roles expectation imposed by society and are bombarded by mixed messages about the role and worth of women in society become frustrated by the lack of female acceptance in careers they wish to pursue.

feel pressure to be liked by boys and to react to these pressures by trying to please others rather than asserting their own feelings and beliefs. (Girls Corrections) No wonder that all these issues have great impact on female behavior. According to the researchers, the girls at this age often report lowered confidence, a great drop in self-esteem, and show relatively high rates of mental problems (e. g. , anxiety and depression), while the boys are less likely to report such behavior (Girls Corrections). Now, what concerns female delinquents in the juvenile justice system, they also have very high rates of trauma and abuse. National Mental Health Association (2004) in Mental Health and Adolescent Girls in the Justice System claims that girls in correctional facilities report more physical and sexual abuse than boys (Girls Corrections), with the abuse rate of approximately 23 - 24 per cent. What concerns possible prevention and / or intervention programs for girls, they should take into consideration specific social, psychological and emotional needs of girls.

These programs should support and reinforce the need for relationship-based programming and should confront the girls behaviors that have contributed to the girls incarceration. The programs should also designed so to help the girls to assume their own responsibility for personal charge that will enhance their lives and reduce the incidence of possible future involvement in the juvenile justice system. The states authorities may also take into account and adopt the experience of Floridas authorities, namely, their successful gender-responsive program, PACE Center for Girls. This program that was initially started in 1985 as an alternative to incarceration, is very successful, with 93 % of the girls succeeding at avoiding re-involvement in the juvenile justice system. (Girls Corrections) According to this program, there is one key factor in its success: the understanding of the relationship between victimization and juvenile crime involvement by girls. (Girls Corrections) Conclusion In conclusion it may be said that the problem of female juvenile delinquency should not be underestimated. It is very important to address the specific needs of girls in the juvenile justice system and to develop new strategies that take into consideration gender-specific needs. The intervention and prevention programs for girls should be positive and focus on strengths rather than applying a deficit model that is often the case in traditional delinquency programs.

The programs for girls should also provide gender-specific education, counseling, advocacy and training. Each participant of this program should be given individual attention and should have her own treatment and assessment strategic plan. Finally, it should be also taken into consideration that parental involvement is crucial to the program's success. Works Cited Girls Corrections. 2008. 26 June 2008 < web >.

Girls in the Juvenile Justice System. 2008. 26 June 2008 < web >. Part I: Delinquency Among Girls. 2008. 26 June 2008 < web >. Peters, S. "Relationships' Role in Female Juvenile Delinquency. " Corrections Today 63. 7 (2001). Roberts, Albert R. Juvenile Justice Sourcebook: Past, Present, and Future. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.


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