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Colorado's Teen Girls Need Help to Stay Out of the System

A study conducted by a Denver sociology and criminology professor indicates that Colorado's daughters need help. Both locally and nationally, more concern has been expressed over the amount of men that winds up in correctional facilities, but what about the country's teenage girls?

Statistics show that there has been a decrease in the amount of teen boys entering the system for assault charges, while that rate has risen significantly among the female teen population. According to sources, within less than a decade's worth of time, the rate of girls who were arrested for assault went up by more than 12 percent.

The Colorado professor's study seeks to do more than reveal startling statistics. Ultimately, the facts serve as a message to state officials that something must be done to target the young female population in order to keep them out of the criminal justice system. What works to keep boys from reoffending is unlikely to work for girls because genders generally learn differently and are driven by distinct factors.

It is significantly more likely that girls who end up in the juvenile justice system have experienced domestic violence in their pasts compared to teen boys. In a piece from The Denver Post, the writer shares the story of a teen girl who was charged with assault after beating up a girl at school. She admits that she began acting out that way after having lived in a home wherein domestic battery regularly occurred.

The teen girl not only exemplifies how many girls' histories make them vulnerable to becoming violent, but she also shows how targeting female needs in an all-girl correctional program that focuses on building trust can make a significant, positive difference in a young lady's life. Such is the point of the professor's two-year study about what works and doesn't work for teen girls in the system.

Advocates for curbing the trend of girls offending and reoffending argue that more effort needs to go into tailoring juvenile correctional programs that help change how girls deal with their anger and relate to people. For many girls, violence is a go-to reaction caused by bottled-up anger that they accumulate because they don't have enough trust in any relationships in order to share their feelings.

Source

The Denver Post, denverpost.com: "Colo. Programs target fastest growing criminal segment: teen girls," Colleen O'Connor, 20 Oct. 2010

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