Extract from a paper I am presenting next month at the University of Cambridge

Moreover youth justice professionals provide minimal consideration towards gender-specific matters, and what’s more, tend to statistically ‘over predict’ the offending behaviour of girls, resulting in the deployment of more ‘intrusive’ measures (Bateman, 2008; Nacro, 2008; Sharpe, 2011). With regard to early-preventative measures, girls have continually been referred to the YISP for expressing welfare difficulties as opposed to displaying crime related problems (Sharpe, 2009). This suggests that girls’ should be dealt with via mainstream provision rather than dealt with in the formal youth justice setting. In addition, there have been ‘heightened’ concerns regarding girls’ offending behaviour, as they appear to be ‘out-of-control’, and drastically committing more criminal offences (and more violent offences in particular), than boys (Sharpe, 2011; Youth Justice Board, 2004, 2009). However, girls’ increased levels of offending may be a result of ‘tougher’ criminal responses, and a less tolerant society:

The rise in girls’ violence … is more a social construction than an empirical reality. It is not so much that girls have become any more   violent; it is that the avenues to prevent or punish violence have grown so enormously.

(Steffensmeier, et al., 2005:397)

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