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Juvenile Status Offenders - Status Offender Escalation To Delinquent Offender

delinquency percent girls offense

There has been ongoing debate as to whether status offenders, with their defiance of authority or control, have more in common with lawviolating delinquent youths, or with typical adolescents who experience conflict with authority figures in sorting out who they are becoming.

Examination of different studies of status offender careers has not found significant escalation into more serious law violations. Status offenders, like delinquent law violators, reoffend frequently, but their reoffenses are most often another status offense. Where there is an escalation, it is more often a charge of a misdemeanor, rather than a felony. Chronicity, rearrest five times or more, is very infrequent.

There is recognition that myriad delinquents have truancy backgrounds and that numerous delinquencies are committed by truants during the hours they should be in school. This is not to say there is a clear line of escalation from truancy to delinquency or serious delinquency.

In 1992, girls represented 42 percent of status offense cases, but just 15 percent of delinquency cases filed. Fifty-seven percent of arrests for running away from home during 1996 involved girls. While girls' delinquencies have increased in recent years, no study has shown a significant female escalation from status offender to delinquent. Male status offenders are more likely to reoffend and escalate, but "most of these males will not become hardened offenders" (Shelden et al.).

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