Physical safety

Earlier in this research, the following needs were presented to enumerate the proper conditions for care that a young adolescent female must enjoy to reduce the risk of offense (Peters, 2004): 1. Physical safety, security and healthy development 2. Love, respect, warmth, trust from primary sources of care (i. e. parents, relatives, home environment) 3. Positive female role models 4. Timely and safe development of sexuality 5. Sense of belonging, kinship, friendship and identification with other female youth

These needs may be offset by the following risk factors that are more often present than absent (Peters, 2004): 1. Lack of resources, violent home and physical environment, inadequate health care, poor nutrition and nourishment and drug and/or alcohol abuse 2. Dysfunctional or neglectful family, presence of barriers to communication within the family, abandonment 3. Messages that distort meaning and relevance of homosexual identity, sexism, gender inequality and racial discrimination within her own community coupled with lack of support and proper information from institutions  .

Sexual abuse, negative perceptions and concepts about female sexuality perpetuated by culture and previous exploitation into sex-related work 5. Presence of peers with bad influence on her, low self-esteem, lack of resiliency and positive outlook in life. These challenges outline the concrete conditions present that put her at risk for offense. These risks are often woven into a web that traps her, with each risk intertwined with another, providing for causation and correlational relationships between the said risks. These risks are discussed in more detail below but may also be found in the introduction of this research paper:

1. Abuse: Majority of female delinquents in the juvenile justice system has suffered some type of abuse in her early years and may be continuing and constantly repeating. Even if the abuse occurred within the family or community, once inside a rehabilitation or correctional facility, abuse from other girls poses a greater risk. In a study of 952 girls in the PACE center for juvenile delinquent girls, the non-governmental agency has documented a total 201 girls who have experienced physical abuse and 176 girls who have experienced sexual abuse.

280 girls out of the 952 experience emotional abuse, 235 were abused at home, and 116 have been raped. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice in coordination with the National Council of Crime and Delinquency conducted their own study which showed that among the female juvenile delinquents admitted into their system, 64 percent have been abused at some point in their life, with 37 percent of all the girls being abused by a parent. 55 percent have been abused by someone other than a parent. Child sexual abuse cases in Texas showed that 71 percent of victims were female.

(Trogdon, 2006) Other studies have shown that 92 percent of girls who are incarcerated or detained in facilities reported that they had been previously abused. (Sharp, 2004) The tendency of girls to cope with abuse by self-blaming, self-mutilation and degrading themselves or associating sex and abuse with affection exhibits an inherent and distinctly different response to abuse than boys. 2. Mental Health: Female juvenile delinquents experience mental health issues which often go undiagnosed and untreated.

They are viewed as being whiny, manipulative, emotional and over-exaggerating. In truth, they actually have some type of mental disorder. Citing the PACE study earlier, 304 girls out of the 952 showed some form of mental disorder. 39 girls exhibited eating disorders. 166 of the PACE girls have mutilated themselves, and 583 of them have either seriously considered suicide or attempted it. Non-gender-responsive programs and staff have often labeled female delinquents as difficult and unable to cope with no resilience at all.

Often citing their manipulation of other people and constant whining, these symptoms of mental disorders are usually unaddressed and thus risk factors may still be present even after release from facilities which translate into repeat offenses. 3. Substance Abuse: it is common occurrence that girls commit criminal acts while under the influence of substances such as drugs or alcohol. Also, dysfunctional family life contributes to the likelihood of a girl turning to drugs or alcohol. This is especially true when the girl is forced to run away from home because of the severity of her family situation.

It has also been seen in previous researches that substance abuse is often connected and present with other problems such as mental disorder and poor academic performance. (Peters, 2004) The PACE study also showed that it had handled 286 girls that had a history of alcohol abuse and 323 with substance abuse. This translated into 33. 9 percent of all their cases had some form of substance abuse and 30 percent had alcohol abuse as of March 2007. 4. Poor Academic Performance: low grades and dropping out of school is the most significant risk factor for early delinquent behavior in girls (Peters, 2004)

Sarah from Law Aspect

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