The juvenile courts were to carry out the activities of determining if the underage is guilty or innocence, or act in place of the defendant's parents. With time, the child savers were able to make sure that all criminal cases that concerned the youth were removed from the adult system of justice. In essence, "many of their reforms were actually aimed at imposing sanctions on conduct unbecoming youth and disqualifying youth from the benefit of adult privileges,”( Shelden , 2004b pp 4). The child savers argued that the child was innocent and thus either the parents or the environment were morally wrong.
The main function of the juvenile courts was focused on monitoring and responding to the youth's behavior and problems which they felt that might lead to the violation of the laws. This made them to base much of their effort to the girl child, more so because of their moral behavior. This period made many institutions and academicians to start thinking on the literature of female delinquency and the institutions that were concerned with the female delinquency corrections as well developed rapidly. Many reformatories and training schools for girls short up as a way of curbing the female delinquency during the progressive era.
Most of these institutions were concerned with the female sexuality and thus needed to put them in their proper position. These institutions segregated the females from the males and made them concentrate on learning feminine roles. The intention of doing this was to ensure that the girls were held in a moral way until they were ready for marriage. "They believed ‘delinquency’ to be the result of a variety of social, psychological, and biological factors, and they were optimistic about the juvenile court's ability to remove girls from influences that were producing delinquent behavior", (Shelden, 2004b pp 7).
With this, the operation of the juvenile courts was initially was totally different from the other courts in terms of operation. For instance, these courts initially did not require lawyers to represent anyone. Many other traditional court proceedings were done away with believing that it was to the best interest of the child that the courts were acting at. It has also been argued that looking at female delinquency; we need to put in mind the victimization that a female might have undergone through either as a girl child or an adolescent.
Indeed, the cases of sexual abuse in the society may play a significant role in leading a female to delinquency behaviors and any other subsequent crimes. looking at various studies, it has been found that "approximately half (48-53 percent) have been sexually abused, and the proportion of women prisoners who report having a history of childhood sexual victimization is two to three times greater than women in general public", (Siegel & Williams, 2001 pp 1). Sexual abuse is one factor that can make the girl child or young adolescent to commit offence like running away from home.
Siegel & Williams (2001) argues that, "accounts of female offenders’ life histories have led to the hypothesis that sexual abuse triggers a woman’s criminal career by leading her to run away as a means of escaping the abuse she is experiencing at home," (pp 2). Therefore, by only running away, it amounts to a state guaranteeing the arrest of the runaway. The running away may again lead to other forms of criminal activities that may even put the female in much more problems. For instance, the girl who has run away may engage in activities such as prostitution or stealing so as to be able to survive in the streets.
It has been found that, most of the prostitutes have a history of child sexual abuse. In reality, most of them loose meaning in leading a positive life after the ordeal they had undergone. In most cases, comparing the male and female runaways, it is common to find that sexual abuse is what makes the female to run away, and not to the boys. The same sexually abused have higher chances of engaging in prostitution as compared to runaways who had other reasons. Furthermore, looking at the females who were sexually abused and run away, they are more likely to engage in other delinquencies than especially the males who did not undergo such ordeals.
In addition to sexual work and prostitutions, the sexually abused may as well turn to drug abuse which is also an offence. It is thus important that to reduce the increasing cases of female delinquency, they be tackled by looking at the root causes and controlling them. Reference: RTI (N. d): Review of the Literature, retrieved on 12th May 2008 from http://girlsstudygroup. rti. org/LiteratureReviewProposalSection-revisedGC. pdf.
Shelden R G. (2004a): Female Delinquency and the Juvenile Justice System: Part I the Double Standard of Juvenile Justice, retrieved on 12th May 2008 from http://www. cjcj. org/pdf/girls1. pdf. Shelden R G. (2004b): Female Delinquency and the Juvenile Justice System: Part Ii, the Double Standard of Juvenile Justice, retrieved on 12th May 2008 from http://www. cjcj. org/pdf/girls2. pdf. Siegel J . A &. Williams L. M (2001): The Relationship between Child Sexual Abuse and Female Delinquency and Crime: a Prospective Study, retrieved on 12th May 2008 from http://www. pineforge. com/mssw2/overviews/pdfs/Siegel_Article. pdf.