Girls and Young Women in the Youth Justice System – Vulnerable or Risky?. Towards Effective Practice

Published: January 2011

This short briefing paper examines the complexities around identification and effective intervention for girls and young women viewed as vulnerable and who may be at risk of future offending. The CJSW Development Centre’s National Development (Champions) Group for vulnerable girls and young women undertook a profiling exercise in an attempt to obtain a better understanding of the needs and vulnerabilities of girls and young women involved in, or on the periphery of, the youth justice system. While limitations of the data collection tool and methodology preclude wide generalisations, the complexities in attempting to identify individuals who may be at future risk of offending based on assessment of present and past needs and vulnerabilities is apparent. Despite the identification of often substantial vulnerabilities and needs in a sample of 12 to 16 year olds, it appears the majority of girls and young women were not involved in serious or persistent offending behaviour. The findings have implications for policy and practice development, which are now focussed on the development of effective and early interventions for all young people considered to be at risk of future offending.

Authors / Editors

Dr Cara Jardine

University of Strathclyde

Research Themes

Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice