Understanding the Etiology of Female Delinquency and Domestic Violence

Kristin Parsons Winokur, Florida State University/
Evelyn Zellerer, San Diego State University
Sherry Jackson, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice

This paper explores the correlates and outcomes of girls' involvement in domestic violence. We argue that family violence plays a major role in many girls' involvement in the juvenile justice system. It is hypothesized that prior abuse, family violence, and official responses to domestic violence play key roles in recent increases in girls' violent offending. It is also hyupothesized that a recent statute (Fla. Stat. 985.213 (2)(b)(3)) related to domestic violence and the use of juvenile justice detention facilities has had a differential impact on female juvenile offenders. We present data collected as part of a four-year OJJDP-funded study of juvenile girls committed to secure facilities in Florida. We conduct quantitative and qualitative analyses, triangulating three data sources. The first is the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument for all referrals during 2000-2001 (n=70,000), with particular focus on youths referred for domestic violence-related offenses. We triangulate these findings with data from the Juvenile Justice Information System to develop complete abuse/negelect, referral, offense, and placement history profiles. Multivariate and logistic regression analyses are used to evaluate gender differences in domestic violence-related offending, referrals, and secure residential dispositions. The third data source is semi-structured interviews conducted with a 25% random sample of girls in commitment in Florida (n=68). Qualitative analyses consider issues such as the relationship between the girls' rationale for violent behavior, ethnic differences, and whether substance abuse was involved.

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Updated 05/20/2006