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A critique of the connection between gender and crime

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The changes in female attitudes: Indication of a dramatic shift in female ideology.
  3. Steffensmeir evaluation and four alternative hypotheses.
    1. Flaws in the theory.
    2. Basis for female criminality.
    3. The forming of social agencies.
    4. Early theorists: Price and Adler.
  4. Sex role theories.
  5. Feminist theories.
  6. Conclusion.
  7. Bibliography.

Official statistics show that overall males commit or, are charged with, more crimes than females (Scottish Prison Service, 2002). However it has also been shown, that in certain areas of criminality such as theft and fraud, female offence rates seem to be rising faster than males. (Steffensmeir & Allan,1996). The reason for this apparent discrepancy in criminality between the genders is the subject of much debate and ongoing research with in Forensic Psychology and for both psychologists and sociologists and. In particular, the increased growth of female crime in direct proportion to male crime, is highly contested by both disciplines with regards to its causation and existence. Research into the causes of crime and gender has produced differing explanations. These range from proposals such as the rise in female criminality is merely an artefact of reporting and prosecuting procedures, to biological and sex role theories of crime, which attempt to depict females as being fundamentally different in nature, thus less likely than males to commit crime.

[...] One difference between the groups however is the tendency for female offenders to have a greater number of dependant children. These theories often see female crime as a response to detrimental economic factors. Studies by Carlen show that poverty may be a major factor in criminality. In her study of female inmates she found 82% of the women had always been poor were unemployed and only had good jobs. However Carlen acknowledges this study is limited in being unable to consider the factors of white collar crime. [...]

[...] He found that if the results are more effectively controlled for variables of female status, economic marginality, opportunity for traditional female consumer crime and the formalisation of social control, then the relationship between female arrest rates and development are greatly weakened. For example, upon considering the influence of the equalization of the gender roles as being causational in the rise of female arrest rates, he suggests that in general research has typically only looked at or indeed highlighted the countries that suit the equation. [...]

[...] Whist sexual or physical abuse may be considered a factor of deviancy, the link between this and adult criminality is understudied at present. Overall, understanding the link between gender and crime, particularly female crime, could still be considered to be in its infancy. In order for this to progress, the adherence to outdated female stereotypes needs to be addressed. This can be considered true both for the justice system and researchers themselves. Bibliography Price, R.R. (1977). The Forgotten Female Offender. [...]

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