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Program Approaches for Girls in Gangs: Female Specific or Gender Neutral?

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Review Volume: 38 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2013 Pages: 491-509
Rebecca D. Petersen; James C. Howell
Date Published
December 2013
19 pages

This article discusses gang prevention and intervention programs for girls.


Although research over the past 20 years has specified with considerable certainty the extent and seriousness of female involvement in gangs, few gang prevention and intervention programs have been designed with girls in mind. As such, the extant research on this topic makes clear the need for both female-specific and gender-neutral programming to effectively address the needs of gang girls. This article considers various aspects of female gang involvement, keeping in mind the implications for gang prevention and control initiatives. These include the prevalence of female gang members, gender-linked risk and protective factors for gang joining, psychosocial experiences of gang-involved girls, the level and seriousness of female gang crime involvement, and the importance of gender composition in gangs. The article then reviews prevention and intervention strategies that appear most promising for girls in gangs within the framework of female-specific and gender-neutral approaches. The article concludes with policy implications and recommendations for future research in this area.