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Children without childhoods: A feminist intervention strategy utilizing systems theory and restorative justice in treating female adolescent offenders

Pepi, Carol Lee O'Hara
June 4, 2015

Source: (1997) Women and Therapy. 20(4): 85-101.

The numbers of female adolescents entering the juvenile justice systems of this country are increasing at a rapid rate. Are these girls subjected to gender bias that detains girls in greater numbers and for lesser crimes than their male counterparts? Drawing on the work of juvenile justice experts, developmental psychologists and current research documents, this paper will put forth a theoretical framework from viewing the causal issues of female adolescent offending, the gender inequalities in arrest, sentencing and program options and gender-specific treatment implications for mental health professionals. Giving recognition to Carol Gilligan’s research on the developmental phenomenon of adolescent girls losing “their voice,” issues of self-identityand self-advocacy will be discussed from a feminist perspective. Mental health treatment methods in detention facilities will be examined with a critical look at the limited access female adolescents have to comprehensive counseling that addresses their victimization. Strengths-based treatment planning based on a systems theory model will be explored as an effective method method for facilitating the female adolescent’s ability to self-advocate within a support network. This paper will call for a paradigm shift away from society’s current retributive justice response to female adolescent offending and toward the healing model of restorative justice. (author’s abtract).


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