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Disruptive and violent delinquent girls: Behavioral causes and treatment options

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  1. Introduction.
    1. Delinquency among females.
    2. The first study regarding this topics was written by Margaret A. Zahn.
  2. Female aggression, delinquent behavior, and treatment options.
    1. Society's influence on female aggression.
    2. The London study.
    3. Psychological explanations for violent and aggressive behavior.
    4. Focus of other studies on more concrete socio-economic and environmental risk factors.
    5. The influence of peers on female youth.
    6. The positive effects of academic success overshadowed by the level of neighborhood disadvantage.
    7. Introduction of a young female and her treatment in the juvenile justice system.
  3. Conclusion.

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. [...]


[...] REFERENCES Alder, Christine and Worrall, Anne. (2004).Girls' Violence. Albany: State University of New York Press. Leve, Leslie D. and Chamberlain, Patricia.(2004). Female Juvenile Offenders: Defining an Early-Onset Pathway for Delinquency. Journal of Child and Family Studies. 13(4). Retrieved November from http://spi.sagepub.com/chi/content/abstract/23/2/186 Mann, Coramae [...]

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