October 30, 2008

Justice Department Study Dispels Myths About Girls’ Delinquency, Prevention Programs Needed

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs' (OJP) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) today released a research bulletin, Charting the Way to Delinquency Prevention for Girls, which reports that despite the rise in female juvenile crime, violence among female youth has not increased.

Following a sharp increase in arrests among female juveniles in the 1990s, OJJDP convened the Girls Study Group (GSG) to gain a better understanding of girls' delinquency and guide policy toward female juvenile offenders. While the majority of delinquent offenders are boys, little research exists on female juvenile delinquency. This first bulletin, part of a forthcoming series, summarizes findings from a comprehensive research project into girls' delinquent behavior.

"The Office of Justice Programs created the Girls' Study Group to fully understand why an increasing number of girls are entering the juvenile justice system and to better understand how to prevent and intervene in girls' delinquency," said Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, Assistant Attorney General for OJP.

   Key findings of the OJJDP-sponsored Girls Study Group:    --  Girls are not more violent now than in previous years. One of the       factors discussed in the bulletin is the unintended impact of       relatively new mandatory or pro-arrest policies put in place to       protect victims of domestic violence.    --  Girls and boys experience many of the same delinquency factors and       that, while some risk factors are more gender-sensitive, focusing on       general risk and protective factors for all youth is effective.    --  Developing and using appropriate risk assessment tools for youth of       both genders is crucial to ensuring the best response.    --  A concerted effort is needed to address the lack of evidence-based       programs for the juvenile justice field overall, as well as the lack       of programming for girls specifically.   

"By convening the Girls' Study Group, we made understanding girls involvement in delinquency a priority," said J. Robert Flores, Administrator of OJJDP. "We will use the data collected from this study to assist government and community leaders in responding to the needs of girls."

Over the next several months, a series of bulletins will be released highlighting the Girls Study Group findings, each one focusing on specific questions from the study group's research. The questions answered by the bulletins will include:

   --  Which girls become delinquent?   --  What factors protect girls from delinquency?   --  What factors put girls at risk for delinquency?   --  What pathways lead to girls' delinquency?   --  How should the juvenile justice system respond to girls' delinquency?   

For more information on OJJDP's programs for delinquent girls, please visit: ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/programs/girlsdelinquency.html.

The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at http://www.ojp.gov/.


Office of Justice Programs - US Department of Justice

CONTACT: Kara McCarthy of the Office of Justice Programs - US Departmentof Justice, +1-202-307-1241

Web Site: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/