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Gender Differences in Effects of Teen Courts on Delinquency: A Theory-Guided Evaluation

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 37 Issue: 1 Dated: January/February 2009 Pages: 21-27
Date Published
January 2009
7 pages

This study used data from a recent randomized trial of the effectiveness of teen courts (TCs) to examine gender differences and mediators anticipated by labeling theory.


Study findings indicated gender differences in the effect of teen court (TC) on delinquency. TC was found to increase delinquency for males and to have no effect for females. Teen court is an innovative juvenile justice diversion program that involves teens in judicial decisionmaking about the behavior of other juveniles who have committed misdemeanor offenses. Despite mixed findings on its effectiveness from evaluation studies, the program is growing in popularity. This study extended an earlier study of the effectiveness of TCs by applying criminological theory to understand the mechanism through which TCs might influence subsequent delinquency. It tested the hypothesis, based on labeling theory, that TCs might increase informal labels. It explored the effect of TC on self-concept and delinquency, with special attention to gender differences. Tables, notes, and references

Date Published: January 1, 2009