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Girls’ involvement in the juvenile justice system

From the time you were a child, you likely heard people refer to girls’ “sugar and spice” while continually reminding them to be nice. And there’s a good chance they were referred to as “princess,” “pumpkin” or “love,” rather than nicknames representative of mental resolve or physical strength.

Despite efforts to equalize views of, and opportunities for, males and females, you might agree there remain some biological differences between the genders. As such, whether due to nature or nurture – or both – juvenile boys are more likely to get in trouble with the authorities. Though, it’s important to consider that adolescent girls face criminal charges as well.

Statistics suggest young girls commit fewer offenses than boys

Historically, the juvenile justice system consisted primarily of males. However, more females entered the system during the ’90s. This prompted research into why this rise came about, as well as how to safely address its potential causation.

Many young girls experience trauma, which may increase their risk of offending. And while the topic of juvenile offenses among females is complex, recent research suggests that girls consist of fewer than 30% of all juvenile arrests.

These findings also point to:

  • Less than 10% of murder arrests involve girls
  • 40% of liquor law violations include young women
  • Females account for 76% of prostitution-related offenses

Other common charges girls face include disorderly conduct, simple assault and larceny-theft.

What are the consequences of juvenile offenses?

A minor’s charges and punishments for offending can vary greatly. For example, a court may require probation for status offenses such as skipping school, possessing cigarettes or running away from home. Meanwhile, a girl could get a misdemeanor for allegations of vandalizing property, using a fake ID or stealing something valued less than $500.

No matter what numbers convey, there are innumerable reasons why a young woman may face charges. Involvement with the justice system could be indicative of her need for help, rather than whether she grew up to be “nice.”

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