Delinquency among females is on the rise, with cases among adolescent females increasing by eighty-three percent between 1988 and 1997 (Leve and Chamberlain, 2004). While it is often found that girls are brought into custody for more minor offenses than boys, the proportion of females committing violent crimes has also risen from ten percent to eighteen percent since the early 1990's (Zahn, 2006).Several explanations have been offered for this increase, many of which look for insight into risk factors which result in violent, disruptive, or antisocial behavior. Risk factors most often cited for female delinquent behavior included family influences, association with delinquent peers, academic performance, and neighborhood composition. History of behavior among girls was also found to be an influence on later acts of violence and delinquency, including being a victim of violence oneself, exposure to physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, and difficulty in school (McKnight and Loper, 2002). While many of these risk factors are unavoidable, studies conducted on the resilience of young girls offer treatment options which focus on enhancing their ability to cope with these risks. Despite traditional gender roles, an increase in research regarding violent and disruptive behavior among young females has also found that their aggression bares many similarities to that of young males (Moore, 2007).
[...] Family disruption, or separation or alienation from the home may also lead to future delinquent behavior and substance use. As females become more involved in substance use and aggressive behavior, their ties to their family become even more weakened, creating a destructive cycle (Zahn 2006). The factors listed above all predispose young females to be at risk for entering into the juvenile justice system. Not all girls who fit these criteria become delinquent however, and this is due in part to factors of resilience. [...]
[...] Despite this fact, I was pleased to learn of the many alternative treatment options for female juvenile delinquents, and that they were not simply punished for their crimes without examining the underlying cause. I liked that resilience factors were considered as well as risk factors, and I feel a preventative approach would be extremely beneficial for female youth. I was not however, impressed with the emphasis that was put on the increase in female crime in all of these studies. [...]
[...] Psychological explanations for violent and aggressive behavior among females are also present. Leve and Chamberlain write that “outcomes for adolescent girls with severe antisocial behavior include various negative health and mental health risks, including participation in health-risking sexual behavior, psychiatric illness, substance dependence, school dropout, mortality, and continued criminal behavior” (p.440). Risk factors that are thought to provoke the onset of this antisocial behavior include family dysfunction, family psychopathology, difficult child temperament, and child cognitive and neuropsychological dysfunction. More specific to girls, experiencing physical or sexual abuse as well as experiencing early menstrual changes may have implications for future anti-social behavior. [...]
[...] Questions were also asked to measure certain risk factors including sexual abuse, poverty, single parent status, and the presence of trash and drugs in their neighborhood. As expected, the risk factors listed above were significantly associated with delinquency (p.191). The results regarding resiliency factors were as follows: “Inclusion of resiliency factors significantly improved prediction of delinquency. Abstinence from alcohol, perceiving that teachers are fair, endorsing a feeling of being loved and wanted, parental report that the youth is trustworthy, and religious belief were significant resiliency factors” (p.191). [...]
[...] BODY: Female Aggression, Delinquent Behavior, and Treatment Options Society's influence on female aggression has recently become a topic of much study and debate by researchers. Different hypotheses exist which explain why the traditional role of a woman in society may lead her to become a criminal, as well as theories which propose that feminism itself is to blame for the recent increase in female crime. The motivation for female violence is described by Alder and Worrall as the “denial of their capacity for aggression and refusal to acknowledge their moral agency, as well as denigration of women who do not fulfill gender roles (p.22). [...]
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