One of the most important issues in crime today is Juvenile Delinquency.
It istoo often the cause that people see it as something ?new? and a problem that needsto be dealt with by today’s society. Female delinquency is and has been rapidlyincreasing in the past few years. In Girls, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice, Lind andShelden give an overview of juvenile delinquency among females. To fullyunderstand the question of who, where, when, how, and why females aredelinquent, it is necessary to first understand the nature of female delinquency. To comprehend the entire study of female delinquency, it is also imperative tobecome acquainted with the theories why females commit such delinquencies andcrimes.
Also, to understand the way of life and the delinquent acts of females. Females are also involved in the subculture of gangs. And what happens when thesefemales become part of the juvenile justice system? When females are arrested fortheir involvement of delinquent acts they enter the justice system, but what are thecourts doing to endure that these young women receive the appropriate sentencing? If sent to a detention center exactly where are they going and what goes on there?Lind and Shelden interviewed a sample of incarcerated females about theirexperience as female delinquents. An overview of the study of female delinquencywill be discussed using the works of Lind and Shelden as a secondary source data andit will conclude whether females that have been part of the justice system are nowintegrated into our society as law-abiding citizens. Society often overlooks at the reasons why young females commit crimes anddelinquent acts.
It is necessary that we take a look at the nature of femaledelinquency to better understand what has driven these young women to commitdelinquent acts. The majority of girls that become delinquent are shaped byproblems that they face in today’s society. Such problems include, little power givento women, few jobs options, and fewer civil rights in comparison to men, and not tomention the root of the problem which in most cases is their home. The majority ofthese females come from low-income and broken homes where they are often raisedby a single parent.
The most common type of crimes committed by female delinquents islarceny-theft, better known as ?shoplifting. ? According to Morris, females are moreoften detected by store personnel because it is excepted that women tend to shopliftmore than men, and therefore are watched more closely. An explanation forshoplifting (Morris) is a ?subconscious motives (kleptomania), depression or poverty. Temptation is another reason why girls shoplift, they believe that popularity is tiedwith physical appearance and the participation in fashion and fads. This is especiallytrue in teenage girls from poor families because these teens feel that they need to bepart of the teenage subculture in order to fit in at school and among their peers.
The status offenses that are most committed by young females are runningaway and curfew violations, but with these minor acts come major consequenceswhich sometimes it includes prostitution. Statistics estimate that over one millionyouths under the age of eighteen run away from homes each year and an estimatedmillion leave ?by mutual consent? or are ?throwaways? (Roberts, 1987:xi). Most ofthe youths that run away remain within ten miles from home and at leastsixty-percent return home within three days. Some of the reasons why these femalesleave their home is in flight from sexual victimization that occurs in the home. Otherrun away girls leave their home because they are rebellious and are often drop-outsthat tend to be angry and they are alienated from their parents.
An estimated600,000 prostitute girls are under the age of sixteen and they majority of these girlshave been run aways. The abuse of these girls often continues from abusive pimpsand customers . Theories of female delinquency date back to the first scholarly ?father? ofcriminology Caesar Lombroso. According to Lombroso, all criminal behavior couldbe explained as the behavior of ?biological throwbacks? and criminals were oftenseen as a less highly evolved normal, law-abiding citizen. In the works of Lombroso,one could find a book filled with figures of women’s weights, measurement of theirlower jaws, brains, eyes, noses, craniums, and hands. Lombroso concluded that?females were congenitally less inclined toward crime than males because of theirsedentary nature and their biological roles as caretakers of children.
? But when thefemale committed a crime, as seen by Lombroso and Ferrero, she was believed to bethe most vile criminal of all. Other theories that sought to explain the causes of delinquency amongwomen were handicapped by stereotyping the female gender. A causal effect of theirdelinquency was played by sexuality. This theme was supported in the works ofThomas, Pollak, the Gluecks, and many others. Other key sociological theories thatwere reviewed were labeling, differential association, control, and Marxist/critical.
These theories suggested that delinquency was an extention of the male masculinity. The most popular theory suggested that there was an increase in female delinquencyduring the women’s movements in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The lifes and delinquency of girls was another attribute in the study of femaledelinquency. To better understand this we must approach this from the view ofsociety and how it views women. In the patriarchal society in which we live in thelifes of both boys and girls are gender stratified.
During the socialization process mostboys and girls learn what is and what is not appropriate for each gender to do or actupon in their surroundings. A women’s place is further enforced as the femalebecomes an adolescent and she learns the do’s and don’t by parents, schoolpersonnel, and others in life. It was believed that the women’s movements was acausal factor in the increase of female delinquency, but research suggests that normsand expectations for girls remains unaltered. In some girls low self-esteem was tiedwith juvenile delinquency, often this occurs while girls are in the adolescent years inschool. Female involvement in gangs is on the rise, once seen that females only joinedgangs to be seen as sex objects, sources of prestige, and hustles to be exploited byboys. On the contrary females join gangs for protection, to get a sense recognitionand identity, and to develop and maintain a peer group or friendship network.
Asportrayed by the media, that the liberation movement is a key factor in female crime,it is too often that this proves to be false. Especially when it comes to the questionwhy females join gangs. The broken home is often the root of the problem whyfemales end up on the wrong branch of society and they have no choice but tobecome a member of a gang and have a ?family? (the gang) to accept to her. Once the crime has been committed and the delinquent female has beenapprehended by law enforcement she is turned into the hands of the courts and shebecomes part of the juvenile justice system.
When a female is taken into custody sheis more likely to be released than a boy suspected of commiting the same type ofcrime, with the exception that the police is more likely to arrest girls on suspicion ofsexual offenses. Therefore, girls are more likely than boys to be referred to the courtsfor status offenses. The roots of the juvenile justice system dates back to the colonial doctrine ofparens patriae ?the ultimate parent? referring to the state. When parents have nocontrol over the actions of their children, the court takes their place. The first juvenilecourts were established in the United States in 1899 and were described as ?childsavers.
? Some not so ?child savers? laws were also enacted during the colonial era,the stubborn child law gave parents the right to kill their children if he or shemisbehaved. In the juvenile justice system, females still suffer from discrimination,often the are sentenced to harsher punishments (than boys) when they commit thesame status offense. The sample of girls that were taken for the study by Lind and Shelden was asample of ten girls that were in a short-term residential treatment program for femalejuvenile offenders. The age ranged from twelve to seventeen years of age with ahighly diverse ethnic group. The girls came from upper-middle class to lower classfamilies. Their offenses ranged from truancy to using and selling drugs.
School wasno so important to these girls and they had very low ambition to further theireducation. Overall, these girls came from broken homes with abusive parents andthey felt that in order for them to fit in with their clique, they had to commitdelinquent acts. Programs for girls are widely available so that females that fall in the wrongplaces in society have the opportunity to get a normal lifestyle. These programsprovide the support that the delinquent females need. For example, basic skills areoften tough to them so that they could survive and perhaps get a college education. Rehabilitation programs are also available for those that are involved in drug use andprostitution.
Having read Girls, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice I found it very informativein the study of female delinquency and I was able to link it to the previous studies ofjuvenile delinquency. Many strengths were found throughout the book, among theminclude the clear comparison of male to female delinquency and the overview of howfemales are treated when they become part of the justice system (very unfairly). Oneweakness I would like to critique is how males were also the ?scapegoats? of thestudies, yes it is a fact that males do commit more crimes that females, but I thinkthere needs to be more research on the theories on female delinquency. This bookgives a great contribution on the study of juvenile delinquency it clearly surveys all thenecessary concepts needed to fully understand female juvenile delinquency. Oneitem I would like to suggest to possible later editions is that the authors have abibiograhphy at the end of the book instead of having the constant interruptions ofciting in between the sentences and paragraphs.Sociology Essays