“This is probably the reason why she resorted to that kind of action”: A qualitative analysis of juvenile justice workers attributions for girls’ offending

Esther Burson, Erin Godfrey, Sukhmani Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A large body of evidence suggests that within the juvenile justice system, girls fare worse than boys on several measures, including number of arrests, length of stay, and mental health outcomes while in the system. Scholarship suggests a myriad of gendered social factors that precipitate girls’ involvement in the juvenile justice system; however, less is known about how stakeholders within the juvenile justice system perceive the girls they work with or interpret their experiences. The current paper examines the attributions that juvenile justice system workers make about the reasons girls offend. In line with previous research, we identify both internal (personality, character traits) and external (situational) explanations for girls’ involvement in the juvenile justice system that correspond to gender stereotypes and expectations of girls. Furthermore, we identify structural attributions as a special subset of external attributions that take into account how larger social, economic, and historical factors shape girls’ situations and experiences and contribute to their criminal behavior. These structural attributions have implications for practitioners’ views of justice and the role of the juvenile justice system in the lives of girls. We conclude with a set of implications for practice and policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-170
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community
Volume47
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 3 2019

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Social Justice
Personality
Length of Stay
Mental Health
Economics
Research

Keywords

  • Attributions
  • blame
  • gender
  • juvenile justice workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

Cite this

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