Black Girls More Likely to Enter Juvenile Justice System

You may remember that we shared with you how black girls are more likely than white girls to be viewed and treated as adults. This adultification of black girls has far extending effects on their childhood. In fact, recent studies have shown that black girls are more likely to enter the juvenile justice system. A recent article on 90.5 WESA by An-Li shared important and shocking information.

In a national study, it was found that black girls are three times more likely than white girls to have contact with the juvenile justice system. Does this mean that black girls are misbehaving more often and more seriously than white girls? No.

In fact, the article states that black girls are more likely to witness and experience trauma. This influences their behaviors and reactions to everyday situations. This begs the question, is the juvenile justice system the best place for these girls? If trauma is at the heart, then there are probably more effective interventions that can provide holistic care to black girls.

Also, let’s not forget the adulification of black girls, which has roots in racism. For example, even though studies find white girls are just as likely to use drugs as black girls, black girls are more likely to be punished for the offense through the juvenile justice system. Why are black girls being seen as more deserving of serious punishment? One that stains their future endeavors and successes.

The top two things to consider when presented with this problem is 1) what in their environments are influencing the behaviors of black girls and 2) is the juvenile justice system the best form of intervention?

Allegheny County Administrative Family Court Judge Kim Berkeley Clark says it best:

“But they are still children,” Clark said. “And the thing is, they need to have the opportunity to be children.”

For Clark, this is a point that the the juvenile justice system and other systems meant to support children must remember.

-An-Li Herring, 90.5 WESA


Photo credit: Richard Ross

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