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Gender-Specific Programs for Female Juvenile Offenders: Purpose, Practice, and Perceived Success
AuthorMiller, Lacey D.
AdvisorMiller, Monica K.
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Female juvenile offenders have increasingly and disproportionately become involved with the juvenile justice system, often as a result of running away, drug use, truancy, and other misdemeanor offenses. Many of these females have experienced negative relationships, abusive situations, and psychological problems. Past research has led to gender-specific programming that is developed to meet the special needs of these young women. Gender-specific programming involves classes, groups, lessons, and settings that include only young women, with topics pertaining to them explicitly. This special programming is thought to be beneficial because it addresses the needs that are unique to females. Gender provides differing social contexts for males and females; the experiences (e.g., abuse), development, and underlying causes of delinquency are different for males and females. Thus, a program that addresses the social contexts that are specific to females would likely be more helpful to female delinquents than a non-gender-specific program. Data was collected from interviews of a sample of young women aged 14-17 who have graduated from a residential program that uses a gender-specific approach and curriculum. This study examined females' perceptions of health, family, school, and other relationships (areas targeted by gender-specific aspects of the program) to see whether these females specifically mention that the gender-specific programming helped them in these areas. It also investigated the females' perceptions of the gender-specific programming more directly (e.g., was it helpful to them). Lastly, this study examined the females' perceptions of what the program might have been like if males had been involved. Results offered insight on gender-specific programming and provided the basis for policy recommendations. Although this study did not directly assess the effectiveness of such programs, the study assessed whether female juvenile offenders perceived that the gender-specific programming had a positive impact on various aspects of their lives.