Female Delinquency


a system by which males control social systems

helps us see how boys’ behavior became the norm for conformity and deviance

parents encourage independence in boys and dependence in girls


Growing up female

teachers would reward a girl for being bookish and a boy for being curious and energetic

Sue Lees’s research

girls are defined by their sexuality

a girl’s reputation describes her sexual behavior while a boy’s describes his personality or exploits


Gender roles

by 4 or 5, children become aware of their gender and the behaviors appropriate to it

girl babies are seen as delicate, soft, and smaller than boys

gender role learning is reinforced in play

girls tend to be cooperative an boys tend to be competitive



building self-esteem for girls is problematic

avenues come from success in relationships and in body image


Female delinquency

girls arrest have held steady since 1965, between 17 and 25% of all juvenile arrests

in 1997, girls accounted for 26 percent of all juvenile arrests



in 1997, nearly 40% of all girl’s arrests were for larceny/theft and running away

in 1997, females accounted for 56 percent of juvenile arrest for prostitution and commercialized vice

less than 1 percent of all juvenile female arrests

often unreported



1997, more than 57,000 girls were arrested for violent offenses, representing about 12 percent of all juvenile female arrests that year

75% for "other assaults" rather than Index offenses


Girls Vs. Boys

ratio of boys to girls for arrest of violent Index crimes is 5.3 to 1

Austin found that from 88-97 the relationship between male and female delinquency has converged for all Index offenses


Liberation Hypothesis

Giordano and Cernkovich found that more liberated girls were equally or less delinquent than more traditional girls.


Biological Theories

until recently theories of delinquency have stressed the causal role of social forces, while theories of female delinquency have stressed the causal role of biology and development


Lomborso and Ferrero

a violent female is a monster

Women lower on evolutionary scale

The masculinity hypothesis suggests that female delinquents have excessive male characteristics



deceitful nature of girls and women

female physiology, especially their passive sexuality and their need to hide menstruation


Precocious sexuality

Early onset of physical maturity linked to delinquency

Symptomatic of maladjustment and social isolation

Evidence suggests that girls who reach puberty at early age are at highest risk for delinquency

Early bloomers may have increased contact with high-risk male adolescents



may have some effect on delinquent behavior


W. I. Thomas

desire for love and recognition

using sex to fulfill their other wishes

reactions to their circumscribed social choices


Konopka and Cowie et al

delinquency in girls is primarily sexual in nature


Sociological Theories

Shaw and McKay’s social disorganization

delinquency defined as part of the male domain

female delinquency not explored


Thrasher’s gang study

girls taking on the roles of boys


Merton’s strain

Ruth Morris argues that women have similar aspirations as men but are denied the opportunities to achieve them.

Morris argues that women should have higher rates of crime and delinquency than men because they experience more blocked opportunities to achieve their goals.


Cloward an Ohlin

boys struggle to develop masculinity in female-dominated homes and schools

females contribute to male delinquency by making it difficult to learn the male role

it is easy for girls to take on the female role; they experience no strain

sees female delinquency primarily as sexual delinquency



authors of text suggest that he believed that girls who became delinquent encounter more anticriminal patterns and are exposed to fewer definitions favorable to violating the law


Marxist/Feminist Theories


girls are less likely than boys to be involved in serious delinquency because they have less opportunity to do so, even in the illegitimate structure

"crime" is usually a behavior involving "masculine" traits


Chesney-Lind and Morash

both boys and girls can develop an ethic of care and nurturing that makes delinquency less likely in either sex

family-related sexual abuse is an overlooked casual variable in female delinquency

the juvenile justice system reinforces patriarchal beliefs about girls

in testing Hagan’s power control, found that there is no evidence that mother’s employment leads to daughter’s delinquency.