Based on a literature review of research on gender-specific programming in juvenile , this paper discusses the target population for such programming, its theoretical foundation, and evaluation evidence of its impact.
Overall, there has been an increase in delinquency cases handled by juvenile courts; females compose an increasing proportion of this caseload. Advocates of gender-specific programming note that girls differ developmentally from boys. As girls enter adolescence, they encounter a variety of stressful changes that are physical, emotional, and psychological. Delinquent behavior by females has also been found to stem from higher rates of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse compared with boys. The distinctive differences in the dynamics underlying delinquent behavior by boys and girls suggests that treatment strategies should be tailored to these gender-related differences. Research on the different causes and manifestations of delinquent behavior between boys and girls has driven research designed to inform gender-specific programming. The dominant elements of gender-specific programming, particularly for girls, are outlined in this paper. Recent reviews of evaluations of gender-specific programming, however, suggest that evidence of its positive impact is weak. A significant problem is that few of these evaluations are based in rigorous methodologies. Suggestions for improved evaluations are offered, and promising gender-specific programs for girls are briefly described. 29 references
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Date Published: October 1, 2010