Typologies of Juvenile Female Offenders: Consistencies With a Feminist Developmental Model
Leslie, Leigh A
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In recognition of the growing concern over juvenile female offending, federal, state, and local juvenile justice systems are increasingly called upon to address the needs of this population of females through theory, research, and programming. In the last decade, creation of programming for this population has been based on the feminist developmental model. The major weakness of this approach to programming for juvenile female offenders, however, is that the model is based solely on typically developed females when, in fact, research suggests that juvenile female offenders likely deviate from typical development in significant ways. The aim of this study was to move forward in assessing the adequacy of the feminist developmental model for use with juvenile female offenders by identifying typologies of juvenile female offenders based on their response patterns to various open-ended questions about their lives and offending history. The typologies were then assessed for consistency with the Traditional Feminist Developmental Model. Further, the risk factors established in "pathways to offending" research, as well as demographic characteristics of race/ethnicity and class, were examined for association with the resulting typologies. Using secondary data of juvenile female offenders in California published by National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), cluster analysis was used to identify offender typologies. Results provided evidence for a 2-cluster solution with weaker evidence for a 5-cluster solution. Both solutions were examined for their association with risk factors. Because the 5-cluster was the weaker of the cluster solutions and showed no statistically significant relations with risk factors, it was used solely as a means to further inform the 2-cluster solution. Results from the 2-cluster solution provided evidence for two distinct typologies of females - those females consistent with the Traditional Feminist Developmental Model and those females for whom the model did not apply. Analyses of the association between risk factor variables and cluster membership indicated differences between the two clusters with regard to substance use, family structure, and the incarceration status of family members. Neither race/ethnicity nor class was statistically significantly different between the two typologies of females. Implications for gender-specific programming are discussed.