Abstract: Gender Specific Violence Prevention and Intervention for Juvenile Justice Involved Females: An Equitable Need to Counter the Rising Violent Crime (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

535P Gender Specific Violence Prevention and Intervention for Juvenile Justice Involved Females: An Equitable Need to Counter the Rising Violent Crime

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Sujeeta Menon, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Juan Barthelemy, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Background/purpose: There has been an increase in  Juvenile Justice Involved Females (JJIFs) involved in violent offending in recent years. Yet, there is little discourse, research or gender specific violence prevention or intervention for females. Victimization and abuse are often experienced among females in the justice system. A report in 2006 indicated that 58% of JJIFs witnessed domestic violence, 38% were victims of sexual abuse, 35% were neglected and 50% suffered from physical abuse. Different forms of abuse frequently result in running away, causing juvenile justice involvement, that often results in “risk amplification’’ of additional abuse (Chen, Tyler, Whitbeck, & Hoyt, 2004, p. 1), and other risk factors such as homelessness, drug involvement, sex trafficking and associating with deviant friends for survival (Chen et al., 2004). Research show that the odds that children who are exposed to violence will experience adverse effects are about 5 times higher than children who are not but also suggests that some youth are able to avoid these consequences with protective factors. Self- restraint is an important life-skill for JJIFs to cope with violence exposure in a noncriminal way, and this paper will focus on how self- restraint, an internal asset, acts as a protective factor against violent offending. It is hypothesized that higher levels of self- restraint will weaken the relationship between the exposure to violence and violent offending. It is proposed that violence prevention and intervention should be gender specific. .

Methods: A linear regression using PROCESS Macro (Hayes, 2017) in SPSS was utilized as the analytical strategy. This strategy includes the interaction effect of two predictor variables (exposure to violence and self- restraint) on an outcome (violent offending) in a sample of (n=184) serious female offenders aged 14-18 years old, recruited through the juvenile justice (JJ) system.

Results: After controlling for 3 variables; race, family structure and neighborhood conditions, the overall model is significant (p < .01) and the predictor variables (exposure to violence and self-restraint) contribute 42% variance to the outcome variable (level of aggressive offending). The moderation; interaction effect of the dependent variable was also significant (p= .014). The results indicate that exposure to violence matters least to those with higher temperance and the relationship between exposure to violence and aggressive offending grows stronger with lower levels of self-restraint.

Conclusion: With the high proportion of females in the JJ system experiencing violence and adverse consequences, the level of violent offending in this population could increase. This calls for equitable violence prevention and intervention for females that are gender specific and responsive, to reverse the potential effect of being exposed to violence. This intervention includes the building of the internal skill of self- restraint to counteract their negative environment, and cope with their emotions in a noncriminal manner. It is hopeful that violent offending among this population will be drastically reduced long term with added emphasis on building internal assets.

Keywords: violent offending, juvenile justice involved females, self- restraint