This paper is an overview of the research, etiology, and the conclusion of female juvenile delinquency and gang membership in todays society. Researchers have identified some demographic patterns of offense, background characteristics and how there is a correlation between victimization, substance and alcohol abuse, and acting out that is linked to female delinquency.
Female Juvenile Delinquency and Gang Membership
According to research, some of the patterners that lead to female delinquency and offending are family dysfunction, trauma, physical abuse, mental health issues, substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, academic problems, and delinquent peers. The typical female juvenile offender profile is that the female is between the age of thirteen and eighteen years of age, she has experienced academic failure, truancy, and dropping out. She has a history of repeated victimization, especially, Especially physical sexual and emotional abuse. She is from an unusual family background that includes involvement in the criminal justice system, lack of connectedness, and social isolation. She has a history of unhealthy dependent relationships, especially with older males. She has mental health issues, including a history of substance abuse. She’s She is apt to be with a member of a community of color. according to Source: B. Bloom and S. Covington, Effective Gender-Responsive Interventions in Juvenile Justice: Addressing the Lives of Delinquent Girls, (Bartollas, Clemens and Frank Schmalleger. 2018. Juvenile Delinquency, Third Edition). In other investigations, researchers find that minor offenses may mask serious problems that girls are experiencing. Some studies have shown that girls who are chronic runaways document significant levels of sexual and physical victimization (Feitel et al., 1992; Stiffman, 1989; Welsh et al., 1995). These studies suggest that although the offense behavior of girls may not appear to be very serious, but it is thought that these girls may be fleeing from serious problems and victimization, some involving illegal behavior by adults, which in turn makes them vulnerable to subsequent victimization and engaging in other behaviors that violate the law such as prostitution, survival sex,1 and drug use. There are also current studies suggesting that certain biological functions and psychological traits may contribute to gender-related variations in responses to certain environmental conditions. These differences may, in effect, partially account for ways in which girls’ delinquency is contrasted with that of boys. Other factors that play a role in female delinquency is the exposure to severe stressors in their lives and how they respond to them are correlated with risk-taking behavior and delinquency. The term stressors are conditions that elicit strong negative responses and that are perceived as uncontrollable and unpredictable and 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 (McBurnett et al., 2005; Sinha, 2001).
There are many other factors that lead to female delinquency such as coming from an unstable or single parent home. The lack of supervision, interest, and structure in the home create the desire and need for attention so girls start looking for outlets to fill this void in their lives not thinking about the long-term consequences that follow most of them into adulthood. Some girls end up in the juvenile justice system where the endure harsh environments that are abusive and broken. When some girls are release from the juvenile justice system, some end up going back to being incarcerated because of their delinquent behavior, but they end up in adult prisons because they are no longer juveniles and they are unable to turn themselves around to make a better life for themselves. It becomes a vicious cycle for many.
For some girls that are involved in delinquent behavior end up in gangs. Once these girls join the gangs they feel like they are wanted, needed and feel important.
Usually, when a female is initiated into male-dominated gang they are required to provide sexual services for one or more gang members to become a gang member. At times many females become victims of rape within their own gangs. They are also many illegal crimes they are forced to participate in such as selling drugs, prostitution, and theft. It is disheartening to know that there are many young women in todays society that are dealing with this harsh life style and feel that there is no escape for them. In many cases when you join a gang you become a life member unless you are injured to the point where you have to revert back to family and friends or you are killed.