Particularities of girls in youth groups

60_national_gangThe NationalGangCenter[1] of the USA has published a bulletin since 2012 with information about different aspects related to youth groups or gangs. The autumn edition of 2016 focuses especially on the particularities of girls within youth groups.

On the one hand, some of the study’s findings aim to improve an understanding of the experiences of girls involved in youth groups, including their reasons for joining or leaving groups, the roles they play and what strategies are used to drop out. The authors of this study recommend four actions to support the task of helping girls to refrain from criminal activity and leave such groups:

  • Consider how different personal factors interconnect.
  • Understand that girls can become trapped within a gang.
  • Provide a tailored service, such as taking into account the specific needs that pregnant girls may have.
  • Work on the girls’ strong points.

Moreover, there is also a series of programmes which have been shown to be effective in dealing with female crime. The reason behind this approach is the increase in the number of girls facing the youth judicial system over the last twenty years, a system which was essentially designed with boys in mind rather than girls. Therefore, whereas most risk factors may be similar for both boys and girls, there are some which are more specific to girls. Consequently, the specific features of the routes which have led girls to get involved in criminal activity should also represent opportunities to carry out differential treatment programmes.

As well as questions related to female participation in gangs, the bulletin contains a review of resources connected to the traffic of people and an insight into the breakdown of the cycle of violence between gangs from a double viewpoint: that of the Integral Model concerning Bands and that of the The Public Healthcare model for the informed treatment of traumatic cases.

[1] The National Centre of Gangs is a project financed by two organisms of the US Justice Department: The Office of Youth Justice and Prevention of Crime and the Office of Judicial Support. Its mission is to offer information and resources concerning groups within state, local and tribal jurisdiction. It also elicits information exchange, training and technical support for professionals and academics.

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