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The Delinquent Girl

The Delinquent Girl

Edited by Margaret A. Zahn
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    The Delinquent Girl
    Book Description:

    Over the past decade and a half, girls' involvement in the juvenile justice system has increased. Yet the topic remains under-studied among criminologists.The Delinquent Girlis a "state-of-the-field" evaluation that identifies and analyzes girls who become delinquent, the kinds of crimes they commit and the reasons they commit them. The distinguished academics and practitioners who contributed to this volume provide an overview of the research on girls' delinquency, discuss policy implications and point to areas where further research is critically needed.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-953-8
    Subjects: Law, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Margaret A. Zahn, Robert Agnew and Angela Browne

    With some exceptions, extensive recent scholarship focusing on gender and crime has tended to concentrate on women, not on girls. Longitudinal studies have been conducted with great impact on fields of knowledge; however, most of these, also, did not focus on girls (for example, Farrington 1994; Loeber, Keenan, and Zhang 1997; Thornberry and Krohn 2005). Moffitt and others (2001) and Widom (1995) are notable exceptions. In addition, while existing treatises have provided important windows into girls’ involvement in delinquency (see, for example, Chesney-Lind and Pasko 2004), no comprehensive review exists of empirical evidence for the causes and correlates of girls’...

  6. 1 The Contribution of “Mainstream” Theories to the Explanation of Female Delinquency
    (pp. 7-29)
    Robert Agnew

    This chapter describes the contribution of “mainstream” theories of crime to the explanation of female delinquency and the gender gap in delinquency. Such theories include strain theory; social learning theory; control theory; labeling theory; deterrence, rational choice, and routine activities theories; Moffitt’s theory of life-course persistent offending; and selected integrated theories. These theories tend to explain crime in terms of characteristics of the individual and the individual’s immediate social environment. (Chapter 8, this volume, by Zahn and Browne focuses on the effect of the larger social environment, particularly the community, on female delinquency.) This chapter examines contributions of each theory...

  7. 2 Feminist Theories of Girls’ Delinquency
    (pp. 30-49)
    Jody Miller and Christopher W. Mullins

    Feminist theory provides “a general approach to understanding the status of women [and girls] in society” (Williams 2000, p. 9). In fact, although there are a range of feminist theories, “all feminist social scientists share the goals of understanding the sources of [gender] inequality and advocating changes to empower women” (Williams 2000, p. 9). As a consequence, feminist criminology is distinct from mainstream research on girls and delinquency because theories ofgenderguide our research, rather than just theories of delinquency (Daly 1998). Specifically, feminist criminologists examine the role that gender inequality plays in shaping girls’ risks for delinquency, as...

  8. 3 Trends in Girls’ Delinquency and the Gender Gap: Statistical Assessment of Diverse Sources
    (pp. 50-83)
    Darrell Steffensmeier and Jennifer Schwartz

    One of the most consistent and robust findings in criminology is that, for nearly every category of crime, females commit much less crime and delinquency than males. The gender gap in offending is particularly notable for more serious and violent offenses. In recent years, however, the extent and character of this gender difference in crime is increasingly being called into question by statistics and media reports suggesting a greater involvement of women—and particularly girls—in the criminal justice system. During the past couple of decades, girls’ delinquency as reported inofficialsources of data has undergone substantial changes relative...

  9. 4 Biopsychological Factors, Gender, and Delinquency
    (pp. 84-106)
    Diana Fishbein, Shari Miller, Donna Marie Winn and Gayle Dakof

    The goal of this chapter is to highlight ways in which specific biopsychological vulnerability factors relate to girls’ delinquency. Although the majority of these factors also influence delinquency proneness in boys, the factors considered particularly relevant to a chapter on girls’ delinquency are those that either are more prevalent among girls than boys who are delinquent or relate to delinquency in distinctive ways among girls. Five general categories are thus considered salient:

    1. Stress and adversity

    2. Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Conduct Disorder (CD)

    3. Intellectual deficits

    4. Early pubertal maturation

    5. Mental health issues

    A host of additional biopsychological vulnerability factors (e.g., genetic...

  10. 5 Family Influences on Girls’ Delinquency
    (pp. 107-126)
    Candace Kruttschnitt and Peggy Giordano

    The family has been one of the most heavily studied social domains linked to delinquency involvement, and virtually all theoretical frameworks incorporate family influences into their perspectives on these problem behaviors. Family processes also have been central to many analyses of the gender gap in rates of delinquency, as many literature traditions (delinquency, developmental and gender socialization) focus on girls’ stronger connections to family throughout the life course (Gecas and Seff 1990; Gilligan 1982; Leonard 1982). Researchers have argued that this stronger relational orientation and bond to family generally operates as a protective factor. However, while girls’ intimate connections to...

  11. 6 Peer Influences on Girls’ Delinquency
    (pp. 127-145)
    Peggy Giordano

    Research has consistently shown strong support for the importance of friendship and peer processes in understanding adolescent delinquency involvement (Warr 2002). Peer processes have also been discussed in connection with the gender gap in delinquency. For example, some researchers have argued that girls’ stronger connections to the family rather than friends generally inhibits their delinquency involvement (Leonard 1982). The assumption that girls are not as peer-oriented as boys is not, however, consistent with a large developmental literature that documents that, on average, girls are significantly influenced by peers and develop peer relationships characterized by intimacy, frequent contact, and mutual self-disclosure...

  12. 7 Girls, Schooling, and Delinquency
    (pp. 146-163)
    Allison Ann Payne, Denise C. Gottfredson and Candace Kruttschnitt

    Although school-related deaths, violent victimizations in school, and overall school crime have declined over the past decade (Kaufman et al. 2001), public concern about school safety has increased, especially in the wake of several highly publicized school shootings between 1992 and 1999 (Anderson et al. 2001). Although infrequent, violence in schools is a problem. The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Surveys (YRBSS), a survey conducted biannually in schools in thirty-two states and certain localities by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides statistics regarding violent youth behavior. The 2003 survey shows that fighting is common among high school students: 33...

  13. 8 Gender Differences in Neighborhood Effects and Delinquency
    (pp. 164-181)
    Margaret A. Zahn and Angela Browne

    There is a disparate and growing literature on the effects of communities—or more specifically, neighborhoods—on behavioral outcomes of residents (Buka et al. 2001; Margolin and Gordis 2000); see Kroneman, Loeber, and Hipwell (2004) for a review of neighborhood context, delinquency, and gender. This literature stems from a long history of sociological work, embodied primarily in the social disorganization tradition (Bursik and Grasmick 1993a; Sampson and Groves 1989; Sampson, Morenoff, and Gannon-Rowley 2002), developmental psychology (Brooks-Gunn, Duncan, and Aber 1997a, 1997b; Brooks-Gunn, et al. 1993; Jencks and Mayer 1990; Leventhal and Brooks-Gunn 2000) and, more recently, economics (Durlauf 2004)....

  14. 9 The Context of Girls’ Violence: Peer Groups, Families, Schools, and Communities
    (pp. 182-206)
    Merry Morash and Meda Chesney-Lind

    Since girls’ violence has long been either ignored or demonized, it is important to avoid either of these extremes in any discussion of this phenomenon. It is far more useful to consider girls’ aggression and violence in its context, which requires a discussion of the role of not only social class (and poverty), but also of geography, culture/race, and finally the sex/gender system. This chapter demonstrates how each of these factors affects the production, shape, and dynamics of girls’ violence.

    The role of economic marginalization in girls’ (and boys’) violence is hard to overstate. Because of economic and social forces...

  15. 10 Young Women and Street Gangs
    (pp. 207-224)
    Jody Miller

    Numerous gang scholars have become attentive to the importance of examining gender in the context of gangs (Bjerregaard and Smith 1993; Curry 1998; Curry and Decker 1998; Deschenes and Esbensen 1999a, 1999b; Esbensen and Deschenes 1998; Esbensen, Deschenes, and Winfree 1999; Esbensen and Winfree 1998; Fagan 1990; Hagedorn 1998), and a core group of researchers have dedicated themselves to understanding the lives of young women in gangs (Chesney-Lind and Hagedorn 1999; Fleisher 1998; Hunt, Joe Laidler, and MacKenzie 2000; Miller 2001; Moore 1991; Nurge 1998; Portillos 1999). In fact, contemporary research on girls in gangs has its roots in earlier...

  16. 11 Girls in the Juvenile Justice System
    (pp. 225-264)
    Barry C. Feld

    The Progressive reformers who created the juvenile court in 1899 envisioned a specialized agency to separate children from adult offenders and to treat them rather than to punish them for their crimes (Platt 1977; Rothman 1980; Ryerson 1978). Initially, juvenile courts’ delinquency jurisdiction encompassed only youths charged with crimes, but within a few years reformers added status offenses—noncriminal misconduct prohibited for juveniles that would not be criminal if engaged in by adults, such as “incorrigibility,” runaway, and “indecent and lascivious conduct” (Feld 2004)—to its jurisdiction. Historically, juvenile courts responded to boys primarily for criminal misconduct and to girls...

  17. Appendix: Girls Study Group Members
    (pp. 265-266)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 267-272)
  19. References
    (pp. 273-324)
  20. Contributors
    (pp. 325-328)
  21. Index
    (pp. 329-343)