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Adolescent Girls in the Juvenile Justice System: Issues for Treatment

Adolescent Girls in the Juvenile Justice System: Issues for Treatment

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Adolescent Girls in the Juvenile Justice System: Issues for Treatment

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  1. Adolescent Girls in the Juvenile Justice System: Issues for Treatment Presented at Women Across the Life Span: A National Conference on Women, Addiction and Recovery, July 13, 2004, Baltimore, MD Presented by Kara S. Riehman, Ph.D. P.O. Box 12194 · 3040 Cornwallis Road · Research Triangle Park, NC 27709Phone: 919-541-6422 · Fax: 919-485-5555 · · RTI International is a trade name of Research Triangle Institute.

  2. Female Adolescent Offenders: Increases in Juvenile Justice Involvement • Between 1987 and 1996, arrests of adolescent females increased 76% compared to 46% among adolescent males. • Between 1981 and 1997, arrests of female adolescents for violent crimes increased 103% compared to 27% for males. • Between 1990 and 1999, delinquency cases involving drug offenses for females increased by 107%.

  3. Why the Increase in Crimes and Violence among Girls? • “Cause” of increase in arrests among girls disputed. • May not necessarily be due to increase in violent behavior, but rather to changing societal response to girls’ aggression, re-labeling of girls’ family conflicts as violent offenses, and gender bias in processing of misdemeanor cases.

  4. Girls’ and Boys’ Offenses Differ • Girls more likely to fight with a family member, boys more likely to fight with friends/strangers (Girls Inc., 1996). • Girls are disproportionately charged with status offenses, and evidence suggests girls are detained for less serious offenses than boys, and are more likely to return to detention for probation and technical violations (Juvenile Detention alternative Initiative study, as cited in ABA 2001).

  5. Characteristics of Girls in the Juvenile Justice System • 2/3 of girls in the JJ system are of color, primarily Black and Latino (Children’s Defense Fund, 2003). • Female adolescent offenders have high levels of: • Family dysfunction • Trauma and sexual abuse • Mental health and substance abuse problems • High-risk sexual behaviors • School problems • Affiliation with deviant peers.

  6. Family Dysfunction • Delinquent females have greater family dysfunction than their male counterparts (Chamberlain & Moore, 2003; Dakof 2000; Riehman et al., 2003) • Families characterized by disengagement and parental rejection, intensive parent-adolescent conflict, and parental substance use (Acoca, 1998; Dakof 2000).

  7. Sexual Abuse • Studies have found high levels of abuse and trauma among delinquent girls: • 73% of girls entering the correctional system reported being victims of abuse (Chesney-Lind & Sheldon 1998). • Other estimates of sexual abuse among delinquent girls ranges from 25-70%.

  8. Trauma • 84% of girls in detention experienced major lifetime trauma (Lederman et al., 2004). • 65% of incarcerated adolescent girls had experienced PTSD at some point in their lives (Cauffman et al., 1998).

  9. Mental Health • Delinquent females have high rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse problems. • 75% of detained girls reported mental health problems (Teplin et al., 2002).

  10. Substance Abuse • 75% of detained girls reported regular use of alcohol and/or drugs (Acoca 1999). • 34% of detained girls had a substance abuse disorder (Lederman et al., 2004).

  11. High-Risk Sexual Behavior • Early sexual activity among delinquent girls. • Sexually abuse associated with early initiation of sex. • Older male partners. • Less condom use among delinquent girls.

  12. School and Peer Problems • Over 80% of detained girls have experienced school problems such as expulsion, suspension or being held back a grade (Acoca 1998; Funk 1999). • Delinquent girls affiliate with peers who are delinquent and substance users (Matsueda & Anderson 1998; Hubbard & Pratt 2002).

  13. How are Girls In JJ Different from Boys? • Delinquent boys also experience many of these problems. • However, delinquent girls are more likely to have: • Family dysfunction • Sexual abuse • Mental health problems • School problems • Use more and “harder” drugs • Have friends who are delinquent and use drugs.

  14. Developmental Factors • Early sexual maturation among girls associated with: • Increased substance use • Delinquency • Depression • Body image disturbances • Conduct problems • Lower academic success Sources: Caspi et al., 1993; Stattin & Magnusson 1990; Graber et al., 1997

  15. Why do Girls Differ from Boys? • Gender-specific pathways to delinquency and substance use. • Relational theory (Gilligan and colleagues) • Girls socialized to adopt stereotypically “feminine” characteristics. • Strain theory (Agnew and colleagues) • Apply relational theory to delinquency. • However, evidence supporting this theory is equivocal.

  16. What Gender Differences Mean for the Treatment Process • Very little research examining how gender differences in background and behavior lead to different experiences in the treatment process. • Findings from a qualitative study of adolescent boys and girls adjudicated to a residential treatment program in California will be presented.

  17. Study Sample • 10 adolescents (7 boys, 3 girls) in the juvenile justice system who were mandated to a residential substance abuse treatment program. • Qualitative interviews conducted with each individual on 1st and 3rd day of program entry, and in months following entry. • Part of larger quantitative study of 449 adolescent offenders in juvenile justice system (ATM study, funded by CSAT).

  18. Sample Characteristics • 6 of 10 youths were Hispanic, 3 white, 1 African-American. • Between ages of 14 and 17. • Girls were using either methamphetamine or cocaine. • Most boys (4 of 7) reported only marijuana use. • These findings reflected in quantitative sample, where girls were more likely to use hard drugs, and used more drugs than boys.

  19. Girls Have Different Pre-Treatment Peer and Family Relationships (Quantitative) GirlsBoys (N=57) (N=392) Negative Family Environment (M) 5.51 3.43 Negative Peer Functioning (M) 6.96 5.62 Favorite drug is harder drug (%) 44.0 14.9 Depressive Symptoms (M) 2.13 1.83 Got drugs from sexual partner (%) 19.3 8.4 Did drugs with sexual partner (%) 45.6 25.3 Lived with sexual partner (%) 21.1 9.9 Satisfied w/ Family Relationship(M) 1.91 2.53 Satisfied w/sexual relationship (M) 1.91 2.53 General Social Support (M) 5.81 6.48 All differences significant at p<.05 or less

  20. Girls Have Different Pre-Treatment Peer and Family Relationships (Qualitative) • Girls had substance-using mothers • Girls report having older peers, usually males with whom drugs are also used, and males who provide instrumental support (as opposed to emotional support) • Girls distrust other girls, had mostly male friends • All 3 girls reported history of either sexual or physical abuse

  21. Girls Have Different In-Treatment Problems with Peers • Co-ed facility, mostly male • Girls had difficulty negotiating sexual tension, sexuality • Little trust among girls within the program, did not respond well to big sister structure • 2 of 3 girls experienced sexual abuse in the program

  22. Gender Differences in Peer Relationships are Relevant for Treatment • Co-ed structure • Girls used to relating to boys on sexual level • Sexual behavior more likely • Increased health risk for girls (pregnancy, HIV, stds) • AWOL among girls centered around sexual issues • Big-brother/big-sister model - girls don’t trust other girls

  23. Early Relationship Issues as Precursors to Problematic Adult Relationships • Peer groups of substance-using girls include drug-using, dysfunctional males • Sexual relationships important for some girls’ self-esteem (may be due to sexual abuse history) • Girls don’t rely on other girls for social support • Girls may become dependent on opposite-sex relationships • This pattern may continue into adulthood

  24. Other Treatment Issues • Literature emphasizes need for developmentally appropriate interventions. • However, literature rarely mentions youths’ burgeoning sexuality or explorations of power and privileges that sexuality confers. • Sexuality a very salient issue for female and male adolescents, and should not be overlooked in treatment milieu.

  25. References • Acoca, L. (1998). Outside/inside: The violation of American girls at home, on the streets, and in the juvenile justice system. Crime and Delinquency, 44, 561-589. • Acoca, L. (1999). Investing in girls: A 21st century strategy. Juvenile Justice, vol 6 (1). Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. • Agnew, R. (1992). Foundation for a general strain theory of crime and delinquency. Criminology, 30, 47-87. • Agnew, R. & Brezina, T. (1997). Relational problems with peers, gender, and delinquency. Youth and Society, 29(1), 84-111. • American Bar Association and National Bar Association. (2001). Justice by gender: The lack of appropriate prevention, diversion, and treatment alternatives for girls in the justice system. Washington, DC: ABA. • Caspi, A., Lynam, D., Moffit, T., and Silva, P. (1993). Unraveling girls’ delinquency: Biological, dispositional, and contextual contributions to adolescent misbehavior. Developmental Psychology, 29 (1), 19-30. • Cauffman, E., Feldman, S.s., Waterman, J., & Steiner, H. (1998). Posttraumatic stress disorder among female juvenile offenders. Journal of the american Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 37, 1209-1216. • Centers for Disease Control. (1998). Youth risk behavioral surveillance – United States, 1997. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 47, 1-23.

  26. References • Chesney-Lind, M. & Sheldon, R.G. (1998). Girls, delinquency, and juvenile justice. Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole. • Chamberlain, P. & Moore, K.J. (2003). Chaos and trauma in the lives of adolescent females with antisocial behavior and delinquency. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma, 6,79-108. • Children's Defense Fund. Girls and juvenile justice: Quick facts. Retrieved from (September 11, 2003) • Dakof, G.A. (2000). Understanding gender differences in adolescent drug abuse: Issues of comorbidity and family functioning. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 32, 25-32. • Funk, S.J. (1999). Risk assessment for juveniles on probation: A focus on gender. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 26(1), 44-68. • Girls Incorporated. (1996). Prevention and parity: Girls in juvenile justice. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. • Graber, J., Lewinsohn, P.M., Seeley, J.R., Brooks-Gunn, J. (1997). Is psychopathology associated with the timing of pubertal development? Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry; 36: 1768-1776. • Hubbard, D.J. & Pratt, T.C. (2002). A meta-analysis of the predictors of delinquency among girls. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 34, 1-13.

  27. References • Lederman, C.S., Dakof, G.A., Larrea, M.A. & Li, J. (2004). Characteristics of adolescent females in juvenile detention. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. In Press. • Lenssen, S.A.M., Doreleijers, T.A.H., van Dijk, M.E. & Hartman, C.A. (2000). Girls in detention: what are their characteristics: A project to explore and document the character of this target group and the significant ways in which it differs from one consisting of boys. Journal of Adolescence, 23, 287-303. • Mason, W.A., Zimmerman, L., & William, E. (1998). Sexual and physical abuse among incarcerated youth: Implications for sexual behavior, contraceptive use, and teenage pregnancy. Child Abuse and Neglect, 22, 987-995. • Matsueda, R. & Anderson, K. (1998). The dynamics of delinquent peers and delinquent behavior. Criminology, 36, 269-298. • Morris, R.E., Baker, C.J., & Huscroft, S. (1992). Incarcerated youth at risk for HIV infection. In R.J. DiClemente (Ed.) Adolescents and AIDS: A generation in jeopardy (pp. 52-70). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. • Riehman, K.S., Bluthenthal, R.B., Juvonen, J., & Morral, A.. 2004. “Adolescents’ social relationships and the treatment process: Findings from quantitative and qualitative analyses.” Journal of Drug Issues. 33(4), 865-96. • Stattin, H. and Magnusson, D. (1990). Pubertal maturation in female development. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. • Teplin, L.A., Abram, K.M., McLelland, G.M., Dulcan, M.K., & Mericle, A.A. (2002). Psychiatric disorders in youth in juvenile detention. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59, 1133-1143.