Girls’ Delinquency and Programming

Morash, M, Stevens, T., & Yingling, J. (in press).  Focus on the family: Juvenile court responses to girls and their caretakers.  Feminist Criminology.

Stevens, T., Morash, M., & Park, S. (2011).  Late-adolescent delinquency: Risks and resilience for girls differing in risk at the start of adolescence.  Youth & Society, 43, 1433-1458.

Based on resilience and feminist criminological theories, several individual, family, and community characteristics were hypothesized to predict late-adolescent delinquency for girls varying in early-adolescent risk. Girls aged 12 and 13 were interviewed each year as part of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. Predictors of late-adolescent delinquency were compared for girls in and below the top 10% in self-reported early-adolescent delinquency. Girls who were higher in delinquency in early adolescence were resilient by 2002 if they had no incarcerated family members and high parental monitoring. Girls with little or no early delinquency were at risk for illegal activity by age 17 primarily due to contextual adversities, low hope for the future, poverty status, and minority racial status. Persistently delinquent girls require programming to address multiple risk and protective factors over an extended time. To prevent delinquency beginning later in adolescence, girls need safe community and school contexts.

Park, S., Morash, M., & Stevens, T. (2010). Gender differences in predictors of assaultive behavior in late adolescence.  Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 8, 314-331.

This article addresses controversy over gender differences in risk and protective factors for late-adolescence assaults. A secondary analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 cohort considered 2,552 youth aged 12 or 13 in the first survey wave. Comparison of girls and boys revealed, as expected, boys had higher levels of risk factors: early delinquency, gang involvement, and hopelessness. Girls were higher in the protective factors, parental monitoring, and school and religious ties; but boys were higher in parental support and work involvement. Negative binomial regression showed that gang exposure and hopelessness explained assaults, regardless of gender. For girls, early runaway behavior and work activity were positively, and parental monitoring was negatively, related to assaults. Unexpectedly, boys with high parental support were more assaultive than others. Prevention requires addressing negative contexts for all youth, but for girls, programs also must address conditions promoting their running away.

Chesney-Lind, M., Morash, M., & Stevens, T. (2008).  Girls’ troubles, girls’ delinquency, and gender responsive programming: A review.  Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 41, 162-189.

This article begins with a consideration of the interconnected troubles and needs that research has documented for girls who become enmeshed in the juvenile justice system. Special attention is given to findings from research that gives girls in the system some ‘voice’ in explaining what services and programs they need and want. After offering some explanation of the gap in programs and services for girls, the article notes the failure of evaluation results to shed light on effective program models, and thus the importance of available documentation on programs as a guide for developing effective, gender responsive programs for girls. Available documentation is analysed, with particular attention to the fit of girls’ assessed and expressed needs to the descriptive material on programs.

Gender and Racial Disparities in Justice System Processing

Stevens, T., & Morash, M. (in press).  Racial/ethnic disparities in boys’ probability of arrest and court actions in 1980 and 2000: The disproportionate impact of “getting tough” on crime.  Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice.

This study was designed to examine whether the shift in juvenile justice policy toward punitive sanctioning disproportionately impacted racial and ethnic minority boys. Using a nationally representative sample derived from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth 1979 and 1997 (NLSY79, NLSY97), this study examines 1980–2000 differences in contact with the justice system, controlling for self-reported delinquency. Results confirmed that boys in 2000 were significantly more likely than those in 1980 to report being charged with a crime. Once charged, they were less likely to be diverted and more likely to be convicted and placed in a correctional institution. Consideration of interaction effects revealed these effects were magnified for Black and Hispanic males. These findings provide evidence of a general trend toward more punitive treatment of boys in the juvenile justice system, especially racial and ethnic minority boys.

Stevens, T., Morash, M., & Chesney-Lind, M. (2011). Are girls getting tougher, or are we tougher on girls?  Probability of arrest and juvenile court oversight in 1980 and 2000Justice Quarterly, 28, 719-744.

Selected for Justice Quarterly Research Showcase, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Annual Meeting, New York, March 13-17, 2012.

Girls suspected or convicted of assaults make up an increasing proportion of juvenile arrests and court caseloads. There is indication that changes in domestic violence arrest policies, school handling of student rules infractions, and practices of charging youth for assaults rather than status offenses account for these trends. To determine whether girls were treated more harshly for assaults after these policies changed, the present study compared the probabilities of conviction and institutionalization, net of the effect of self-reported attacks on persons, for 1980 and 2000. Data were from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth 1979 and 1997 cohorts. Girls experienced a unique increase in the probabilities of justice system involvement that was replicated only for Black males. The increase was magnified for Black girls. Additional research is needed to better connect specific policies to drawing selected subgroups more deeply into the justice system and on the consequences for affected youth.

Violence against women:

Morash, M., Bui, H., Stevens, T., & Zhang, Y. (2008). Getting out of harm’s way: One year outcomes for abused women in a Vietnamese immigrant enclaveViolence Against Women, 14, 1413-1429.

The study identifies predictors of women’s remaining entangled in abusive relationships. The sample includes 57 women in one Vietnamese American enclave. Women’s beliefs in maintaining an intact family, patriarchal decision making, and fear of their partners characterized women remaining. To a lesser extent, seeking help from a variety of places characterized women who escaped, and concern with achieving important goals, number of children, financial dependence, lack of support, and legal marriage characterized women who remained. Discussion centers on how social and legal services can meet the unique needs of women with circumstances similar to those who participated in the study.


Vega, A., Martinez, R., & Stevens, T. (2011).  Cosas Politicas: Latino Political Views by Region.  In R. Martinez (Ed.), Latinos in the Midwest. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.

Leave a Reply