Effective Gender-Responsive Interventions in Juvenile Justice: Addressing the Lives of Delinquent Girls

Barbara Bloom, Sonoma State University
Stephanie Covington, Center for Gender and Justice

After being disregarded for years, girls are no longer invisible in the juvenile justice system. Increases in girls' arrests have surpassed those of boys for the last decade. Between 1989 and 1998, girls' arrests increased over 50 percent compared to a 17 percent increase for boys, and girls currently account for one out of four arrests. The significant increase in girls in the juvenile justice system has called attention to their status and the particular circumstances they encounter within the system. Despite this increased attention, there is a lack of information about what types of programs and interventions work best with this population and few program evaluations have focused exclusively on girls. This paper will address the gendered differences in girls' pathways into delinquency, their offense patterns, and their behavior and needs while in the juvenile justice system. We assert that the juvenile justice system's reaction to these differences has not been gender-responsive policy and programming. For the most part, the system which was designed to deal with delinquent boys, has neglected the gender-specific program and treatment needs of girls. Based on research findings from several studies, we propose a framework for designing a continuum of care for girls which includes effective gender-responsive prevention and intevention approaches.

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Updated 05/20/2006