Quarterly Meeting Summary
United States Capitol Building
Mansfield Room S207
and Meeting the Needs of the Nation's Girls"
Top of Page
- In Attendance
- Welcome and Opening
Janet Reno, Attorney General, and
Chair, Coordinating Council on Juvenile
Justice and Delinquency Prevention
The Honorable Janet Reno, Chair, Attorney General, U.S.
Department of Justice; John J. Wilson, Acting Administrator, Office
of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Office of Justice
Programs, U.S. Department of Justice; Renee Bradley, Special Assistant to the
Director of Research, Office
of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education; Dr.
Larry K. Brendtro, President, Reclaiming
Youth International; Kimberly J. Budnick, Director, Concentration of Federal
Efforts, OJJDP; John Calhoun, President and Chief Executive Officer, National
Crime Prevention Council; Dr. Larry EchoHawk, Professor, J.
Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, UT; the Honorable Adele
Grubbs, Juvenile Court of Cobb County; Colien Hefferon, Associate Administrator,
Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA); Elizabeth Herskovitz, Acting Juvenile
Coordinator, Immigration and Naturalization Service; Bertha Jones, Program
Analyst, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development; Allan Levitt, Chief, Education Branch, Office
of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP); the Honorable Gordon Martin, Associate
Justice, Massachusetts Trial Court,
District Court Department; Richard Morris, Youth Development Specialist, U.S.
Department of Labor; Ann Segal, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Initiatives, U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); Charles Sims, Chief, City
of Hattiesburg Police Department; Ernie Thomas, Management Analyst, U.S.
Department of the Treasury; Arthurine Walker, Director, Constituent Outreach, Corporation
for National Service; and Jim Wright, Coordinator of Youth Alcohol Programs, National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation.
Top of Page
Welcome and Introductions
The Honorable Janet Reno, Attorney General, and Chair,
Attorney General Janet Reno welcomed everyone,
saying she was thankful for the Council's continued support.
The work done around the country is exciting, but there is
an emerging problem involving at-risk girls and young women
entering the juvenile justice system. Statistics reveal the
magnitude of this problem. The increase in juvenile arrests
since 1991 has been greater for females than for males. In
1998, females accounted for 22 percent of juvenile arrests
for aggravated assault and 31 percent of juvenile arrests for
simple assault. Females represented 58 percent of all juvenile
arrests for running away from home. Female arrests for weapons
violations nearly tripled between 1981 and 1997, while male
rates nearly doubled. During the same time period, the female
rate for larceny grew by 40 percent while the male rate stayed
constant. The number of delinquent cases for females rose 76
percent from 1987 to 1996 compared with 42 percent for males.
Victims of rape are disproportionately children and adolescent
females. According to a report by the Center
for Women and Policy Studies, two-thirds of convicted rapists
surveyed said that their victims were younger than 18 and that
the majority knew their victims. In a Commonwealth Fund survey,
21 percent of high school girls surveyed reported past physical
or sexual abuse, the majority occurring at home and more than
once. Women also are three times more likely to be victims
of family violence that men. In addition, eating disorders
are more prevalent among girls. In one study, 80 percent of
girls report unsafe dieting practices.
Limited attention has been focused on the needs of girls
and women. Gender-specific programs are also rare. Gender bias
often occurs when girls are placed in programs designed to
meet the needs of males, often with negative results. However,
there are a few examples of good State and local programs.
In 1993, Oregon became the first State to require that girls
and boys have equal opportunity and access to human and correctional
services and that these services not be gender neutral or generic.
Colorado has funded the Girls Equitable Treatment Coalition,
a State advisory subcommittee that oversees policy and program
development for female offenders. Florida initiated the Female
Offender Research Project in 1997 to provide information on
female offenders. Missouri sponsored regional focus groups
to assess early identification and other services for females
prior to court involvement. The University of Hawaii Center
for Youth Research published Girls at Risk: An Overview
of Female Delinquency. Iowa produced a desk protocol providing
a list of services for female offenders.
The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974
requires States to complete an analysis of gender-specific
services available and a plan for providing needed gender-specific
services for the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency.
The State Challenge Activities Program of 1992 assists States
in addressing gender bias and program equity so that females
have access to a full range of programs and training. OJJDP
has also contracted with Greene, Peters, and Associates to
Principles for Promising Female Programming: An Inventory of
The Council's role is to develop an Interagency Public and
Private Working Group on Gender, which will complement OJJDP's
establishment of a National Girls Study Group. Participants
will include criminologists, statisticians, developmental psychologists,
juvenile justice researchers, practitioners, and correctional
researchers. Attorney General Reno stated that she would also
add public health specialists, because a partnership between
the juvenile justice system and the public health system could
be extraordinarily effective.
The National Girls Study Group would review the literature
on juvenile female violence, delinquency, antisocial behavior,
and victimization; conduct a broad assessment of what is known
and identify gaps in intervention and prevention; and report
on effective intervention and prevention efforts. The Interagency
Working Group on Gender, in addition to supporting the work
of the Study Group, would catalog programs across Federal agencies
and coordinate gender-specific efforts. To assist in this collaboration,
OJJDP is developing a solicitation (available May 2000) to
create a National Institute for Girls. The Institute will foster
the development and implementation of a comprehensive continuum
of gender-responsive prevention, intervention, and graduated
sanctions and services for girls to meet the needs of diverse
jurisdictions and communities.
Attorney General Reno said that the Institute might also
examine what happens in each instance of female offending.
She has been impressed by the detailed reporting required of
local authorities in the case of traffic fatalities. Because
of this, there is a good understanding of why people are killed
in traffic accidents. Similarly, this type of reporting would
increase our understanding of female offending. The more our
efforts are fueled by solid information, the more effective
we will be. The Coordinating Council has been effective in
helping design a continuum and explaining its importance to
John J. Wilson thanked the Attorney General for coming. He
noted that gender bias in the juvenile justice system will
continue to be a major issue for OJJDP and the Council, but
that there are many exciting ways in which agencies can work
together to address programming for girls. He then introduced
the first of the afternoon speakers.
Top of Page
Cathy Spatz Widom, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and
University Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the
New Jersey Medical School (Newark)
Dr. Cathy Spatz Widom stated that criminologists have concentrated
on male offenders and male delinquency and that females have
been largely overlooked by researchers and funding agencies.
Traditional assumptions about females in general have influenced
research and theory.
Two general reasons have been offered for neglecting the
study of female criminality. The first is that the nature of
female offending does not threaten social functioning. The
second focuses on the small number of women that are arrested
and the small proportion of women in prison. However, it appears
that female criminal activity has increased more rapidly than
male criminal activity. In 1998, females represented 26 percent
of general arrests. In 1996, the violent crime arrest rate
for females was three times higher than 30 years earlier. Since
1993, there has been a drop in violent crime arrest rates for
boys and girls, but the drop has been more dramatic for boys.
The nature of female offenses has also changed over time.
Since 1970, the arrest rate ratio of males to females for violent
crime has declined substantially. Thus, the disparity between
male and female crime is decreasing, and the crimes they commit
are becoming more similar. Cases involving females are less
likely to be disposed of by detention or long-term confinement.
In all cases, female offenders are receiving less harsh dispositions
than dispositions received by males. However, recent changes
in the law-mandatory sentences for drug crimes and lowering
of the age at which juveniles can be tried in criminal court-have
resulted in more juveniles serving time in prison, often in
adult facilities. Few studies have examined the effects of
incarceration on juveniles, but what is known suggests that
the effects are not positive. Dr. Widom stressed that nothing
is known about the consequences of confinement on females.
Most juvenile detainees are released to the community and
face substantial barriers to mental health and other services.
Many are poor and uneducated and have minimal social networks
and unmet psychiatric needs. To date, little empirical evidence
exists to document these needs.
Little research exists on the psychological morbidity of
female juvenile delinquents, and, apart from a few recent exceptions
of research in progress, what little there is focuses on small
samples. The research suggests that the prevalence rate of
psychiatric disorders among female juvenile detainees is three
to five times higher than that of the general population. At
least one-half have substance abuse problems, and comorbidity
or the cooccurrence of problem behaviors is the norm. Based
on limited research, there is also a suggestion that girls
may have more mental health issues than do boys.
The role of early childhood abuse and neglect is also important.
We typically think of boys who, as victims of violence, become
perpetrators of violence as adults. We assume that victimized
girls internalize their experience; however, the evidence reveals
that this is not so. Compared with nonabused and nonneglected
girls, abused and neglected girls are twice as likely to be
arrested as juveniles, twice as likely to be arrested as adults,
and more than twice as likely to be arrested for violent crimes.
It has been speculated that status offenders can be ignored
because they do not escalate in their offending behavior. However,
the data indicate that a substantial proportion of female status
offenders go on to become adult offenders. More than one-third
of the girls in Dr. Widom's study who were not victims of abuse
and neglect and almost one-half of abused and neglected girls
had a record of status offenses. Early intervention may be
important in preventing this escalation, but we need to know
the best method of prevention.
Much has been written about the role of child abuse in running
away and triggering a girl's entry into delinquency. Good evidence
supports the notion that child abuse and neglect increases
girls' and boys' risk of being arrested and running away. Children
that run away, even those with no known history of abuse and
neglect, are more likely to be arrested as juveniles and adults.
The question has been asked if the criminal behavior of young
girls is a passing effect of adolescence or if it signifies
serious behaviors that will persist into adulthood. The few
existing longitudinal studies of girls reveal that girls do
poorly across the few domains of functioning that have been
examined (school completion rates, family court involvement
as adults, and offsprings' higher risk of placement outside
the home). Dr. Widom's work on career trajectories has identified
a group of high-rate, chronic, or persistent female offenders
who are more likely to be abused and neglected, who have peak
offending at ages 26 and 27, and who average one arrest every
2 years through age 35. Almost one-half have been arrested
for violent offenses. This pattern is similar to a small group
Dr. Widom concluded that there has been a rapid increase
in the overall rate of juvenile female crime over the last
30 years. Traditional explanations may not explain this increase.
Researchers need to examine the role of childhood experience,
neighborhoods, families, and the individual characteristics
of female offenders. Intervention must happen when girls first
come into contact with the system as status offenders or runaways
to prevent adult criminal behavior. Running away may be a critical
point for positive intervention, particularly for very young
runaways and those who are abused and neglected. Research is
needed on the effects of various interventions and the role
of psychiatric morbidity in female crime. There is an urgent
need to develop a research agenda on female juvenile offenders
to determine ways to intervene effectively and prevent the
development of antisocial behavior.
Richard Morris asked if this increase has to do with aggressive
prosecution or a kind of "freedom of expression" on the part
of girls. Dr. Widom said there is a dearth of systematic information
that can answer these questions. Aggressive prosecution or
freedom of expression could be factors, but so could poverty
or a sense of deprivation. Research would help test the assumptions
made previously and, perhaps, erroneously.
Jim Wright noted the closing of the gender gap in motor vehicle
fatalities. Male fatalities have dropped off while female fatalities
have remained the same. John Calhoun said that some judges
have criminalized young girls to get them services. Dr. Widom
stated that the psychological morbidity and cooccurrence of
behaviors seen among girls may be exaggerated because they
are funneled into these services.
Mr. Wilson noted that some States have instituted effective
services for status offenders that do not involve bringing
in the juvenile justice system or locking up offenders. Dr.
Widom said it would be exciting to have research that would
indicate conclusively the most effective ways to deal with
these status offenders.
Top of Page
Effective Strategies and Programming
LaWanda Ravoira, D.P.A., President and Chief Executive
Officer, PACE Center for Girls, Inc.
Dr. LaWanda Ravoira discussed program strategies used by
the PACE Center that could be used in prevention, early intervention,
or a deep-ended residential commitment program. PACE, which
grew out of the lack of gender-specific services for girls
and young women in Jacksonville, FL, is a nonresidential community-based
program that works with nearly 2,000 girls per year. Dr. Ravoira
reported that about 75 percent of the girls at PACE have been
sexually abused, 75 percent are living in single- parent households,
most are 2-6 years behind academically, and many struggle with
Before PACE existed, judges had to deep-end girls to find
a placement for them or send them home where they would continue
to be abused. PACE was founded in 1985 on the belief that holistic
work with girls and their families serves them better. Last
year, 98 percent of at-risk girls who were served by PACE did
not reoffend. PACE provides 3 years of transition services
to any girl in the program.
PACE provides a middle and high school education program
with a staff/student ratio of 1:10. The "Smart Girls" gender-specific
curriculum serves girls 12-18 years old and is designed to
honor and celebrate girls and young women and the perspective
The curriculum also honors family and cultural perspectives.
The girls are involved in community service as a way of giving
back to their communities and addressing their spiritual needs.
Staff provide one-on-one counseling specific to the feminine
perspective. Eating disorders are a major area of concern.
Girls sometimes reject their bodies, often due to victimization
by people they should have been able to trust. Girls also have
to deal with feelings of shame due to victimization, sexual
abuse, and a society that does not honor the female perspective
or celebrate girlhood.
The Center uses strategies developed by the Valentine Foundation
as part of the curriculum and daily activities. Girls need
space that is physically safe and removed from those who depend
on them and from the attention of adolescent males. Girls must
have the opportunity to find out who they are without regard
to the attention of males. Within a few weeks, girls say, "This
feels like family. I have a bunch of sisters," and they stop
wearing heavy makeup and provocative clothes.
Girls need to talk to one another because they use language
differently than young men do and need time to process their
emotions. They need opportunities to be heard and to have emotionally
safe, nurturing conversations.
Girls also need a voice in the design, implementation, and
evaluation of a program if the proposed benefits are to be
relevant to them. At a very young age, girls lose their voice
because society believes that girls should be seen and not
heard. They need to be able to channel their voices in productive
Girls also need education about how their bodies function.
Primary healthcare issues are a major concern. Some girls have
primary healthcare issues that result in sterility at adolescence.
Of equal importance is teaching girls how to have healthy sexual
Girls need mentors. Girls change through positive relationships
with peers who have similar experiences and with women who
do not. Mentors have to share their experiences honestly with
Girls have varying personal and cultural strengths that must
be tapped. Young women's souls must be fed, so programming
must have a strength-based perspective. For example, running
away from home can, from a girl's perspective, be one of the
most positive things she can do. This type of experience has
to be reframed to honor the female perspective and girls' developmental
Top of Page
Federal Gender-Specific Programs
Susan F. Wood, Ph.D., Director, Division of Policy and
Program Development, Office of Women's Health, U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services
Girls are at risk as they transition from childhood to adolescence,
so the Division of Policy and Program Development in the Office
of Women's Health has focused on this transition point. The
Division uses the public health model, with the goal of preventing
the development of risky behaviors or health habits. Girls'
immediate view is of short-term consequences (e.g., STD's,
pregnancy, HIV/AIDS), but there are also long-term consequences
that need to be addressed, such as lung cancer, heart disease,
and osteoporosis. The goal is to develop good habits early.
Girl Power, a national public education campaign focusing
on 9- to 14-year-old girls, was launched in November 1996 as
a secretarial initiative in HHS in partnership with the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Administration, the Office of Women's
Health, and the Secretary's Public Affairs Office. Girls tend
to lose self-confidence and their sense of self-worth during
the transition period from childhood to adolescence. The campaign
provides accurate health information to help them develop skills
to resist unhealthy influences and make positive choices. It
supports girls and the adults who care about them and provides
skill building and self-esteem through academics, arts, sports,
and other arenas. The goals of the program dovetail naturally
with the goal of keeping them out of the juvenile justice system.
The campaign first focused on public awareness of alcohol,
tobacco, and drugs, but nutrition, eating disorders, and physical
activity have since been added. The campaign is now focusing
on special populations. The campaign features a very popular
Web site, which, after 2 years, is getting nearly 2 million
hits each month.
Initiative members are currently working on the release of
a community education kit that summarizes the activities going
on around the country. They have created an activity guide
in partnership with the Girl Scouts of America that can be
taken up by grassroots and community organizations. They are
also collaborating with YES magazine to target urban girls,
particularly African American girls.
The initiative is working to integrate Girl Power into other
HHS youth-serving programs and is developing a program called "Girl
Neighborhood Power" to work with nongovernmental organizations
in four sites nationwide. Members are also working with the
Food and Drug Administration to develop a Girl Power component
to the Web site that focuses on girls with chronic illness
and disabilities. They are focusing on eating disorders and
body image and have created information and guidance for dissemination
to middle schools for teachers, school nurses, coaches, parents,
and friends of girls with eating disorders. They are working
with the Office of Research on Women's Health at the National
Institutes of Health to put a health science curriculum online,
which is targeted at middle and high school girls and boys,
that highlights issues important to girls.
Dr. Susan Wood closed by saying that their work follows up
the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women, part of which
focuses on girls' education and health. The President's Interagency
Council on Women, convened by Secretary of State Madeline Albright,
has just released America's Commitment for the Year 2000, which
summarizes everything being done for women across the Federal
Government, including a section on girls.
Mr. Wilson asked if any evaluation activity is underway to
measure the impact of the public education campaign. Dr. Wood
said that evaluation of the materials and impact of the Eating
Disorders and Bodywise Campaign has just begun. They should
have information in a year or two.
Kenneth R. Warlick, Ph.D., Director, Office of Special
Dr. Kenneth Warlick first discussed what is known about gender
differences in special education. Recent research suggests
that women are underrepresented in the special education population
and have been ignored. Although the school-age population comprises
equal numbers of males and females, two-thirds of all students
in special education are male. Research indicates that males
are more than twice as likely to experience severe disabilities.
They are twice as likely to have a reading disorder as females.
Thirty percent of children identified with learning disabilities
are female and 70 percent are male. Twenty percent of children
with emotional disabilities are female and 80 percent are male.
The high number of males in special education has been attributed
historically to the overrepresentation of males, but the tracking
of males into special education could be the result of gender-biased
A 1992 report from the Association of American University
Women report indicated that gender bias can take many forms.
Teachers call on boys more than girls, encourage more assertive
behavior from boys than girls, and evaluate boys for creativity
and girls for neatness. There has not been a similar study
on teacher attention and behavior relative to disabilities.
From 1987 to 1993, OSEP conducted the National Longitudinal
Transition Study of Youth, which provided information on the
transition of youth from high school to postsecondary opportunities.
The study revealed that females with disabilities had fewer
opportunities to participate in high school vocational courses,
lower employment rates, and lower wages than males, even though
their academic performance was higher and they were truant
less often. Females with disabilities were more likely to become
single mothers at an early age (40 percent, compared with 28
percent of females in the general population).
Dr. Michael Wehmeyer at the University of Kansas and Harilyn
Rousso, Director of Disabilities Unlimited in New York City,
have recently completed a 5-year study on gender issues, that
will be published as Double Jeopardy: Addressing Gender Equity
in Special Education Services. When females with disabilities
leave high school, they have less positive outcomes in terms
of self-reliance and self-satisfaction than do boys with disabilities.
They also have limited access to afterschool programs, which
leads to isolation. Boys are more likely to act out, which
increases the likelihood of referral to special education programs.
Female behavior tends to be more internal and less disruptive,
which affects referrals and support for females. In a review
of special education referrals decisions, it was found that
females were more likely to be placed in restricted or segregated
settings and had lower IQ scores than males. Although 20 percent
of males had behavior issues listed as a concern, only 2.5
percent females had these listed. Once in special education,
males were more likely to the program than females.
The Center on Education, Disabilities, and Juvenile Justice
found increased rates for students with disabilities in the
juvenile justice system, including an increase in the rate
of female students. Very few studies deal with females in the
juvenile justice system. In an analysis of more than 200 studies
on intervention and delinquency between 1970 and 1996, the
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that 53 percent
of the studies focused entirely on boys and 34 percent focused
primarily on boys. We do not know as much about females with
disabilities in juvenile justice as we should. We do know that
males and females differ greatly with respect to the frequency
and severity of offense. Females tend to have lower rates of
offending, but their offenses tend to be more extreme. Antisocial
behavior is less a predictor of later issues for young females
than it is for male students.
OSEP showcased two research initiatives at a national summit,
Better Behavior Better Schools, which focused on the Regional
Intervention Program based in Tennessee. This program taught
parents how to manage children who were exhibiting violent
behaviors at age 3. By teaching parents intervention and behavior
management strategies, officials did not have to refer any
of the children to special education services. Another program,
the Schoolwide Project on Positive Behavior Supports, taught
behavior principles to all school staff, who in turn taught
the principles to the students. Middle schools reduced referrals
for discipline over 3 years. Elementary schools reduced suspensions
by 68 percent in 1 year. This type of systematic intervention
could reduce the behavioral concerns of many schools, freeing
them to devote their energy and resources to youth with more
severe problems. This year, OSEP issued a directed research
proposal on gender issues and plans to fund three 3-year projects
at about $180,000 per year. OSEP will also contribute expertise
and financial resources to the proposed Center on Gender Issues
under development at OJJDP.
Betty M. Chemers, Acting Deputy Administrator for Discretionary
Much has been said about the scope of female victimization,
girls' entry into the juvenile justice system, and the dearth
of programming options. However, there is a great deal happening,
which indicates that the time is right for a greater concentration
of effort. The current situation is similar to the one 20 years
ago, when the problems of female criminality were addressed.
This second period should be capitalized on as well.
Betty Chemers stated that some researchers and policymakers
are skeptical about the increase in female delinquency. These
people point to other factors that may be at work, such as
assault cases that are the result of parents pressing charges.
This skepticism, however, should not detract from attention
to the fact that a limited system of care or services exist
to assist females. These gaps need to be filled.
As the Attorney General mentioned, OJJDP has a mandate to
deal with gender issues. The 1992 Challenge Grant Program gave
this mandate teeth. For example, the State of Utah used these
moneys to develop a curriculum for training the staff of a
new division on female offenders. A committee was formed to
review gender-related issues and provide statewide training.
Our efforts have been focused on training and technical assistance
efforts that focus on the needs of girls. OJJDP has developed
two key publications for the field. The first, Guiding Principles
for Promising Female Programming: An Inventory of Best Practices,
was published in October 1998 and will be reissued in late
fall 2000. The second, Investing in Girls: A 21st Century
Strategy, was released in October 1999. OJJDP is also developing
- A 1-day training curriculum for policymakers and program
administrators who work in corrections, human services, and
other settings serving females.
- A 2-day training for entry level staff
who work with girls will be complete October
The goal is to reach as many people as possible and to keep
this issue in the forefront of juvenile justice matters. A
Web site on gender will be linked to the OJJDP Web site (www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org).
Greene, Peters, and Associates and the Northwest Regional Educational
Laboratory are establishing a clearinghouse in Oregon (888-877-0691).
Some of our challenges are to understand the developmental
pathways girls follow to become delinquent and the nature of
their offending and to identify the treatments that are most
effective. What is known about girls comes from longitudinal
studies of boys, but efforts are underway to remedy this situation.
OJJDP has provided funding for a longitudinal study with National
Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The study, conducted by
Dr. Rolf Loeber, will involve 2,500 inner-city girls ages 6
to 8 and focus on conduct disorders. This research will provide
valuable data about the developmental pathways of girls.
OJJDP also has a number of field-initiated research projects.
One, conducted by the University of Michigan, will evaluate
three programs, including a program that incorporates gender-specific
programming and another that is a female-only traditional residential
These research activities will make a major contribution
to the field. In addition, OJJDP's FY 2000 program plan announced
that the agency will establish a National Girls Study Group,
which will be similar to its efforts on serious, violent juvenile
offending and on very young offenders. The Study Group, which
will be announced as a competitive solicitation, will systematically
review the literature on juvenile female violence, delinquency,
antisocial behavior, and victimization to identify the causes
and correlates of female delinquency, promising interventions,
successful programs, and future research and programming. OJJDP
plans to create a National Institute for Girls to provide nationwide
leadership for improving outcomes for delinquent and at-risk
girls. The Institute, which will be announced as a competitive
solicitation in June 2000, will support research; national,
State, and local training; technical assistance; and information
Judge Martin asked whether the training of the trainers would
include State employees. Ms. Chemers said it would be open
to interested people who would apply for admission. Mr. Calhoun
asked if girls need their fathers as much as delinquent boys
need their fathers. Ms. Chemers deferred to Dr. Widom, who
said that this was an excellent question, but that, again,
no research has been done that would answer it. Mr. Wilson
said that the priority of the National Institute for Girls
would be to establish a research agenda.
Top of Page
Remarks by Department Representatives
Allan Levitt, Director of the National Youth Anti-Drug
Media Campaign, ONDCP
Allan Levitt, Director of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media
Campaign, ONDCP, showed two public service announcements (PSA's)
targeting girls. The campaign has specific, research-based
platforms for youth and adults. One PSA will be in movie theaters
in May; the other will be on television. His office purchases
advertisements in huge quantities, half of which they sell
to other groups and agencies that have a drug prevention component.
He invited everyone to apply through the Ad Council. His office
also does outreach to the entertainment industry and recently
held a seminar for writers on sex, teens, and drugs. His office
is interested in partnering with other groups on similar efforts.
Discussion on Potential Areas for
Collaboration and Development of a National Girls Initiative
Shay Bilchik, Administrator, OJJDP, Vice Chair, Coordinating
Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Mr. Bilchik reviewed some of OJJDP's efforts in this area,
which are premised upon its Comprehensive Strategy for dealing
with serious, violent, and chronic offenders. One of the elements
of the Comprehensive Strategy is the need to support parents
and their primary role in nurturing their children. The focus
of OJJDP's programs has been on local communities, children's
needs and their risk factors, and on the overlapping influences
in the child's life.
There are no clear demarcations between the different domains
of a child's life, Mr. Bilchik said; instead, there is a synergy
between the factors that increase the probability of delinquency.
When children have multiple negative influences in their lives,
those influences surface in a kind of multiplier effect, increasing
the probabilities of bad behavior. Programming needs to be
holistic and multisystemic, but the core element continues
to be a family strengthening component.
An example of this type of multisystemic therapy approach
can be found in a South Carolina family and neighborhood services
program that examines the home environment and how to influence
the ability of the family to handle the issues children face
with school, peer groups, and the community. This program saw
reductions of 50 percent in delinquent behavior, and the key
element was strengthening the family.
This approach is highlighted in OJJDP's work in four key
areas-research and evaluation, demonstration replications,
training and technical assistance, and information dissemination.
In addition to publishing a series of bulletins on effective
practices, OJJDP wants to refine how it uses the Internet and
to continue the use of satellite teleconferencing to get the
message out to communities. OJJDP recently developed a new
webpage on disabilities that incorporates no new research but
links many sources of information.
Michael MacPhail, Judge, County and Youth Courts of Forrest
County, MS, asked that the Federal agencies coordinate with
one another and blend their funding to allow local communities
to address their problems.
Top of Page
Discussion of Federal Efforts to
Coordinate Community Support
John J. Wilson, Vice Chair, Acting Administrator, OJJDP
Mr. Wilson asked for suggestions from Council members on
potential areas of collaboration for a national initiative
on girls. Mr. Levitt said that this is the only major English-speaking
country that does not require media education in schools. When
youth are able to perceive racial or gender stereotypes in
the media, they are more able to withstand the effects of media.
Ann Segal said that the public health service's Healthy People
2010 effort, released February 2000, will track a number of
items of interest to the Council: access to services, obesity,
and eating disorders. Many public health service people at
the State and local level focus on those indicators.
Mr. Morris said that an interagency working group on gender
is reasonable in light of the little research available and
the need for a research agenda. Colien Hefferon said that USDA
supports the national 4-H system, which is the largest youth
serving program in the Nation. One of the challenges USDA faces
in developing programs through the land grant system is understanding
resiliency in youth and knowing how to generalize from the
research. Ms. Hefferon supports, as a central part of the initiative,
setting a research agenda to target programs more effectively.
Dr. Brendtro said it would be useful to link other areas
of research to research on girls. He noted that the system
places girls in situations that do not meet their developmental
needs. He cited one girl who was killed in a South Dakota boot
camp. Another girl in a North Dakota facility was allegedly
raped and 2 weeks later committed suicide. His organization,
Reclaiming Youth, has produced two publications focusing on
girls-one a magazine that features articles about girls and
the other entitled Reclaiming Our Prodigal Sons and Daughters.
Renee Bradley reiterated the point that all the agencies
must come together because one agency alone cannot address
the needs of girls who have disabilities or are at risk. OSEP
will contribute its experience and funding to a working group
on girls. This effort will ultimately benefit States and local
Mr. Wilson agreed that the issue involves all the interests
represented on the Council. Discussions will continue about
the National Institute for Girls and the Interagency Working
Group on Gender so that Federal efforts can be coordinated.
Judge Martin said that the continuing placement of juveniles
in Federal custody is of ongoing concern and suggested updating
the task force report on that topic.
Top of Page
John J. Wilson, Vice Chair, Acting Administrator, OJJDP
Mr. Wilson said that the next Council meeting would tentatively
focus on employment and training services for high-risk and
delinquent juveniles. There would also be a progress report
on gender. He thanked everyone for coming to the meeting.
Top of Page
Back to Meeting Archives