Differences in treatment and intervention needs of girls arrested for status versus criminal offenses

Juliette Noel Graziano, Florida International University


The purpose of this research was to explore the differences in factors associated with girls' status and criminal arrests. This study used data from six juvenile justice programs in multiple states, which was derived from the Juvenile Assessment and Intervention System (JAIS). The sample of 908 adolescent girls (ages 13-19) was ethnically and racially diverse (41% African American, 32% white, 12% Hispanic, 11% Native American and 4% Other). A structural equation model (SEM) was analyzed which tested the potential effects of adolescent substance use, truancy, suicidal ideation/attempt, self-harm, peer legal trouble, parental criminal history and parental and non-parental abuse on type of offense (status and criminal) and whether any of these relationships varied as a function of race/ethnicity. Complex relationships emerged regarding both status and more serious criminal arrests. One of the most important findings was that distinct and different patterns of factors were associated with status arrests compared to criminal arrests. For example, truancy and parental abuse were directly associated with status offenses, whereas parental criminal history was directly related to criminal arrests. However, both status and criminal arrests shared common associations, including substance use, which signifies that certain variables are influential regarding both non-criminal and more serious crimes. In addition, significant meditating influences were observed which help to explain some underlying mechanisms involved in girls' arrest patterns. Finally, race/ethnicity moderated a key relationship, which has serious implications for treatment. In conclusion, the present study is an important contribution to research regarding girls' delinquency in that it overcomes limitations in the existing literature in four primary areas: (1) it utilizes a large, multi-state, ethnically and racially diverse sample of justice system-involved girls, (2) it examines numerous co-occurring factors influencing delinquency from multiple domains (family, school, peers, etc.) simultaneously, (3) it formally examines race/ethnicity as a moderator of these multivariate relationships, and (4) it looks at status and criminal arrests independently in order to highlight possible differences in the patterning of risk factors associated with each. These findings have important implications for prevention, treatment and interventions with girls involved in the juvenile justice system.

Subject Area

Social work|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Graziano, Juliette Noel, "Differences in treatment and intervention needs of girls arrested for status versus criminal offenses" (2010). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3430520.