Female Juvenile Offender Involvement in Domestic Violence-Related Offending

Kristin Parsons Winokur, Justice Research Center
Julia Blankenship, Justice Research Center

The increase in girls' arrests for violent offenses over the last decade has garnered the attention of scholars as well as of the media. While some have characterized the increase in girls' violent offenses as an indication of a new wave of "bad girls" and a substantive behavioral change on the part of young women in America, others have focused on the etiology and circumstances surrounding girls' violent offending. The extent to which violence impacts girls' lives and their own involvement in violent offending has only recently gained attention. Domestic violence and the role it plays in the violent offending of girls is a topic warranting further empirical inquiry. Of particular interest is whether domestic violence incidents result in the criminalization of girls' survival techniques, whether it increases their likelihood of involvement in the juvenile justice system, and whether this differs significantly from that of boys. The current study attempts to explore these issues through the analysis of juvenile cases involving male and female domestic violence offenders in the state of Florida. The study sample consists of 20,118 cases referred to the juvenile justice system. The intent of the research is to explore the situational contexts underlying recent increases in girls' violent offending and to examine whether gender differences emerge in the processing of juvenile cases and placement of youths in detention. The findings include a descriptive profile of the male and female offenders in the sample as well as multivariate analyses of gender differences in the likelihood of being detained solely for a domestic violence offense.

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Updated 05/20/2006