Does Gender Matter? A Study of Gender and Adolescent Offending

Per-Olof H. Wikstrom, Cambridge University
Robert Svensson, University of Stockholm

Gender is generally regarded as a strong predictor of offending and some scholars have even argued that we may need different theories to explain male and female offending. This study challenge whether this is really the case for adolescent offending. This paper presents findings from recent Swedish studies into adolescent offending. The sample used (pooled data from four different studies) include 2283 14 year old subjects living in a medium-sized city and in two small towns. The study focuses on three main research questions. First, is gender a major predictor of adolescent offending? When controlling for individual structural position, social situation and morality, is gender still a significant predictor? And finally, do the same factors explain male and female adolescent offending? The results show that gender explains only a small proportion of variation in adolescent offending prevalence and frequency . In addition, it is shown that the same factors, by and large, explain offending variation for males and females. The findings are discussed in relation to the concept of gender and criminological theory aiming to explain variation in adolescent offending.

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Updated 05/20/2006