U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Improving Law Enforcement Responses to Adolescent Girls

NCJ Number
Susan Yeres, Ed.D.; Meg Holmberg, M.S.W.
Date Published
7 pages
This is a resource intended to improve outcomes when law enforcement personnel interact with adolescent girls.
This resource outlines reasons why girls often behave differently from boys, and it offers tips on how to manage situations that involve girls in a way that will increase the chances of having the best possible outcome for the girls while ensuring public safety. In dealing with the problem behavior of girls, law enforcement officers can choose options for handling a case, ranging from an informal warning to an arrest. As a "gatekeeper," law enforcement officers make choices that will influence whether a girl becomes more deeply involved in the juvenile justice system or receives the help she needs to prevent delinquent behavior. Four characteristics of girls are emphasized in this resource: they are more likely than boys to have a history of abuse and other forms of trauma; they experience a unique set of personal problems that put them at risk for delinquency; they usually show aggression with words rather than physical attacks; and many girls feel worthwhile only if others see them as attractive. Based on these characteristics of girls, tips are offered for responding effectively to situations that involve girls. The intent of these tips is to guide officers in making decisions that avoid causing further trauma to the girl, maintain safety for others, keep them out of the juvenile justice system or prevent deep involvement in it, and address problems so there is less chance of another call for a similar incident involving the girl. In addition to the 10 tips, alternatives to arrest through police-community collaboration are outlined. An annotated list of additional resources is provided.