One of the most important issues in crime today is Juvenile Delinquency. It is
too often the cause that people see it as something “new” and a problem that needs
to be dealt with by today’s society. Female delinquency is and has been rapidly
increasing in the past few years. In Girls, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice, Lind and
Shelden give an overview of juvenile delinquency among females. To fully
understand the question of who, where, when, how, and why females are
delinquent, it is necessary to first understand the nature of female delinquency.
To comprehend the entire study of female delinquency, it is also imperative to
become acquainted with the theories why females commit such delinquencies and
crimes. Also, to understand the way of life and the delinquent acts of females.
Females are also involved in the subculture of gangs. And what happens when these
females become part of the juvenile justice system? When females are arrested for
their involvement of delinquent acts they enter the justice system, but what are the
courts doing to endure that these young women receive the appropriate sentencing?
If sent to a detention center exactly where are they going and what goes on there?
Lind and Shelden interviewed a sample of incarcerated females about their
experience as female delinquents. An overview of the study of female delinquency
will be discussed using the works of Lind and Shelden as a secondary source data and
it will conclude whether females that have been part of the justice system are now
integrated into our society as law-abiding citizens.
Society often overlooks at the reasons why young females commit crimes and
delinquent acts. It is necessary that we take a look at the nature of female
delinquency to better understand what has driven these young women to commit
delinquent acts. The majority of girls that become delinquent are shaped by
problems that they face in today’s society. Such problems include, little power given
to women, few jobs options, and fewer civil rights in comparison to men, and not to
mention the root of the problem which in most cases is their home. The majority of
these females come from low-income and broken homes where they are often raised
by a single parent.
The most common type of crimes committed by female delinquents is
larceny-theft, better known as “shoplifting.” According to Morris, females are more
often detected by store personnel because it is excepted that women tend to shoplift
more than men, and therefore are watched more closely. An explanation for
shoplifting (Morris) is a “subconscious motives (kleptomania), depression or poverty.
Temptation is another reason why girls shoplift, they believe that popularity is tied
with physical appearance and the participation in fashion and fads. This is especially
true in teenage girls from poor families because these teens feel that they need to be
part of the teenage subculture in order to fit in at school and among their peers.
The status offenses that are most committed by young females are running
away and curfew violations, but with these minor acts come major consequences
which sometimes it includes prostitution. Statistics estimate that over one million
youths under the age of eighteen run away from homes each year and an estimated
million leave “by mutual consent” or are “throwaways” (Roberts, 1987:xi). Most of
the youths that run away remain within ten miles from home and at least
sixty-percent return home within three days. Some of the reasons why these females
leave their home is in flight from sexual victimization that occurs in the home. Other
run away girls leave their home because they are rebellious and are often drop-outs
that tend to be angry and they are alienated from their parents. An estimated
600,000 prostitute girls are under the age of sixteen and they majority of these girls
have been run aways. The abuse of these girls often continues from abusive pimps
and customers .
Theories of female delinquency date back to the first scholarly “father” of
criminology Caesar Lombroso. According to Lombroso, all criminal behavior could
be explained as the behavior of “biological throwbacks” and criminals were often
seen as a less highly evolved normal, law-abiding citizen. In the works of Lombroso,
one could find a book filled with figures of women’s weights, measurement of their
lower jaws, brains, eyes, noses, craniums, and hands. Lombroso concluded that
“females were congenitally less inclined toward crime than males because of their
sedentary nature and their biological roles as caretakers of children.” But when