Stop Labeling Abused Girls as “Bad Girls”
Date:  02-19-2015

More girls are arrested for status offenses than boys, and are often punished more harshly
A recent article by Jeannette Y. Pai-Espinosa and Jessie Salu that appeared on the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange website reveals some upsetting facts:

  • The percentage of girls in the juvenile justice system has steadily increased over the decades, rising from 17 percent in 1980 to 29 percent in 2011.

  • Girls are more likely than boys to be arrested for status offenses — behaviors that would not be considered offenses at the age of majority — and often receive more severe punishment than boys.

  • Victimization of girls typically precedes their involvement with the system.

    The criminal justice system was designed for men, as a result women and girls are often not given treatment or services appropriate for their gender. The JJIE article offers a report from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Findings from the Survey of Youth in Residential Placement, that includes:

  • 42 percent of girls in custody reported past physical abuse

  • 44 percent reported past suicide attempts

  • percent reported past sexual abuse.

    Pai-Espinosa and Palu offer some recommendations that are designed to eliminate the “bad girl” stigma and help girls heal through treatment:

  • Promote universal assessment for girls and boys involved in the juvenile justice system to better understand their exposure to violence, abuse and neglect.

  • Advocate that girls in or at risk of entering the juvenile justice system receive gender and culturally responsive, trauma-informed, developmentally appropriate services to heal from the violence and abuse they have experienced.

  • Push for the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act, with a focus on preventing detention for status offenses and the importance of gender-responsive and trauma-informed services.

  • Endorse and advance the important work of organizations like the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and the National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged with Status Offenses.

    Read the full article here.

    Source: Reclaiming Futures