Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

In 2009, girls accounted for almost 50% of all status offense cases petitioned to the courts, as compared to 28% of all delinquency cases.1

Among the thousands of status offense cases petitioned to the courts every year, a disproportionate number of them are brought against girls. In 2009, girls accounted for almost 50% of all status offense cases petitioned to the courts, as compared to 28% of all delinquency cases.1 Moreover, the rate at which girls are petitioned to the courts for a status offense has outpaced that of boys. Between 1995 and 2009, the number of petitioned cases for curfew violations for girls grew by 23% vs. only 1% for boys.2 The number of petitioned cases for liquor law violations for girls grew by 41% vs. only 6% for boys.3 During that same period, the number of petitioned runaway cases for girls decreased by 25%, yet girls still comprised 58% of all petitioned runaway cases in 2009.4 In addition, the truancy case rate for girls was higher than the rate for all other status offense categories.

CJJ released an Emerging Issues Policy Brief on Girls, Status Offenses and the Need for A Less Punitive and More Empowering Approach. The brief outlines how different expectations of girls lead to a double standard, the need for gender-responsive services, and the structural racism and implicit bias that girls of color face.

To learn more about girls in the juvenile justice system, go to Section 1.9 of the National Standards of Care for Youth Charged with Status Offenses.

 

This page was adapted from Section 1.9 of the National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged with Status Offenses. 


1 Puzzanchera, Charles, Benjamin Adams, and Sarah Hockenberry. 2012. Juvenile Court Statistics 2009. Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice.

2 In most states, the legal age of majority for status offense purposes is 18. The notable exceptions are South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming, where the age of majority for status offense purposes is 17. OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book, Juvenile Justice System Structure & Process, Upper and lower age of juvenile court delinquency and status offense jurisdiction, 2012. Available at http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/structure_process/qa04102.asp?qaDate=2012.

3 Puzzanchera, et al., supra note 1.

4 Id.