Girls face a double standard when they enter the juvenile justice system, where they are more likely to be detained than boys for less violent offenses, a private study said Wednesday.
"The juvenile justice system reflects society's assumptions about gender," the study by Girls Incorporated said. "Boys are perceived to threaten the community with violent behavior, girls by flouting moral standards."These assumptions appear to color girls' encounters with the justice system, the report said, with most girls who enter the system being charged with so-called status offenses such as running away, being ungoverable, underage drinking, truancy and curfew violations.
Even though most girls are detained for nonviolent offenses they are twice as likely to be detained as boys and are generally detained three to five times as long as boys, the study said.
Girls accounted for less than 10 percent of arrests for violent juvenile crimes but nearly one-fifth of the arrests for aggravated assault in 1994, it said.
Girls Incorporated, a New York-based nonprofit organization that runs inspirational programs for girls, recommended that girls' needs be taken into account by the juvenile justice system, which it said was primarily geared to boys.
"It is neither effective nor acceptable to assume that girls are well served by programs that were designed for boys," the study said.