U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2023

This literature review summarizes trends in girls’ involvement in the juvenile justice system.


This literature review summarizes trends in the involvement of girls in the juvenile justice system, changes in their contact with the system over time, girls’ unique risk factors and needs, theoretical frameworks explaining girls’ involvement in delinquency and the juvenile justice system, and interventions that may lead to positive outcomes for girls. Some researchers have posited that girls’ unique needs are not always met when they become involved in the juvenile justice system because of the emphasis on serving boys. As a result, several gender-specific approaches have been designed, implemented, and evaluated. Historically, girls have been less likely than boys to become involved in the juvenile justice system. Increases in the proportion of cases involving girls during the 1990s led to increased attention on the needs of girls in the system and on how their needs may differ from boys’. Although girls are still underrepresented in most stages of the juvenile justice system, their representation is larger today than in the past. This remains the case even during large decreases in the number of both boys and girls involved in the justice system during the past few decades.

Date Published: August 1, 2023