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Juvenile Delinquency

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How Gender and Race Play a Role in Juvenile Delinquency

Research Paper

SOC 3562-090

August 2016

        It has always been speculated that men commit more crimes than women, but recent research proves that this might not always be the case. Given that more men are caught and put in prison every year, women also commit many crimes that get settled without prison time. People of color also have been targeted for hundreds of years as making more trouble than white people. Males have almost always been the target for police when a crime is committed. When looking at the circumstances of these people, it is more clear why these people commit certain crimes. Females often times commit crimes because of an abusive past, while men commit crimes for reasons such as gang membership. People of color have always been known to commit more crimes, but why would a certain race commit more crime than any other race. Research and studies have shown that gender and race both play a huge role in juvenile delinquency.

        Gender has, and probably always will, have a huge impact on people and society as a whole. Females grow up in a much different situation than males do. Females are typically targeted for just being a female, which makes them easy for older male predators. In “Juvenile Justice in America,” written by Bartollas and Miller, it gives a chart on the “four propositions of feminist theory of delinquency.” This chart flows through how females end up delinquent. The chart flows from the first proposition, which is that “girls are frequently the victims of sexual abuse” to the second proposition, which is “victimizers(often fathers) may utilize social agencies(like the police and the juvenile court) to keep victims at home and vulnerable.” When a girl is sexually abused, she needs the police to step in and intervene on her part. If the young girl is or was being abused by her father at any point, she would most likely be scared of him and not take the legal steps to have him arrested. This is particularly a hard situation because it keeps these girls at home with their predator, which again makes them vulnerable to his abuse. The third proposition states “as girls run away from home, they are forced to survive on the streets and become involved in various forces of crime.” This statement is clear and concise in stating what very well could happen if a girl tried to escape her abuser. This situation makes is hard for the young girl to know what to do, since no matter what she decides to do it could seem like a dead end for her. The fourth and last proposition states that “on the streets, they become involved in various forms of criminal activity that exploits their sexuality”(Bartollas 76).

        The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention within the U.S. Department of Justice came out with a “Girls Study Group” article in 2010 that discusses female delinquency. In this article is addresses the issue of girls delinquency rising to almost 30% of all juvenile crimes. Although female juvenile delinquent acts are typically less serious than those acts of boys, minor offenses for females have gone up(Slowikowski 1). A 1992 study of girls who had runaway from home found that there were significant levels of sexual and physical abuse. These young girls think that running away from home is the girls only option of hope and getting away from their problems. Along with abuse, there are other reasons why girls tend to become delinquent. Sometimes there can be biological evidence on why a female decided to involve herself in delinquent acts. Stress, trauma, and mental health can be associated with delinquency according to the “Girls Study Group.” A 2005 study of the biological reasons females commit crimes states that “Stressors are conditions that elicit strong negative responses and that are perceived as uncontrollable and unpredictable. Such conditions produce alterations in the body’s stress responses that disrupt cognitive and emotional processes, thereby increasing the likelihood of risky behaviors in vulnerable adolescents”(Slowikowski 3).


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