This paper presents various researches in relation to gender-specific programs for female juvenile delinquents. The developmental differences between male and female youth offenders will be presented as well as the special developmental needs of female youth to reduce risk of offense. The introduction of the paper will present the current trends in juvenile delinquency and the rise in the number of female youth offenders over the past years. The various risk factors that push these girls into crime shall be highlighted in the body of the paper.
Gender-specific program principles that should guide the formulation of plans, policies and programs for female youth offenders will also be presented. Following this, key elements and components of gender-specific programs will be presented. Introduction The juvenile justice system in America addresses the need for rehabilitation and correctional facilities for male and female youth offenders. Separate from the adult penal system for adult offenders, the juvenile justice system handles cases of delinquent youth from the prevention of youth involvement in crime to rehabilitation and aftercare services.
The two main objectives of the system are to ensure the safety of American citizens from youth offenders through protection and prevention measures and to rehabilitate and address the commission of youth crime. The concept of juvenile delinquency operates on the philosophy of parens patriae, which recognizes the state or government as responsible for protecting, caring, nurturing and raising the youth both in the presence and absence of the parents of the child as primary caregivers (Robertson, 1996). Laws have been enacted to form official policies that govern and sanction the institutionalization of the juvenile justice system.
Here in America, the 1974 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was the landmark policy upon which the current system operates under today. In earlier years before the law was enacted, it was common and legal practice to institutionalize juvenile delinquents, in some instances detaining them in adult facilities. However, with the passage of the said law, the juvenile justice system adopted a new approach to dealing with youth offenders. The law specifically called for the release of youth offenders from adult rehabilitation and correctional facilities for status offenses within the span of two (2) years from admission.
Another distinct feature of the system is that it provided for the creation of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the venue for granting funds for programs in each state depending on the youth population and the magnitude of youth crime. With the help of the program grants provided by the federal government, other states have approached the problem of juvenile delinquency through research and past experiences in rehabilitation. One emerging trend from various research and data gathered from case documentations and statistics is the increase in the number of female offenders. (Sharp, 2004)