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March Raises Awareness for Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

Posted in 2015, Across the Country Thursday, 12 March 2015

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The discourse on youth within the criminal justice system often overlooks the special circumstances and unique challenges that girls in the system face. Before ever coming into contact with the criminal justice system, many girls experience trauma – physical and/or sexual abuse, neglect, poverty and family instability – just to name a few.

According to Detention Reform and Girls, a 2005 report from the Annie E. Casey foundation, an increasing number of girls are being arrested for minor offenses and spending more time —sometimes nearly twice as long — in detention relative to their male counterparts. For girls, these experiences can reignite trauma. Instead of addressing these problems, the process and experience of detention ignores the causal factors for these minor offenses and further exacerbate pre-existing trauma.

Moreover, girls are likelier than boys to be arrested for status offenses and often receive more severe punishment than boys. This highlights the subliminal gender inequality that differentiates the experiences of boys and girls in the criminal justice system to the detriment of girls.

March is a month to raise awareness for girls in the juvenile justice system. Take the time to learn more about girls in the system and reflect on some of the challenges that girls in the system face in your own communities.