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Gender and Crime


The majority of girls and women involved in the criminal justice system have committed ordinary crimes—mostly minor thefts and frauds, low-level drug dealing, prostitution, and misdemeanor assaults against their mates or children. Some of them commit crime over several years and serve multiple jail or prison terms in the process. But they are not career criminals, and women are far less likely than men to be involved in serious crime. These generalizations hold true regardless of data source, level of involvement, or measure of participation.

The gender gap for criminal offending is remarkably persistent across countries, population subgroups within a given country, and historical periods. This persistence can be explained in part by historical durability of the organization of gender and by underlying physical/sexual differences (whether actual or perceived). Human groups, for all their cultural variation, follow basic human forms.

Recent theory and research on female offending have added greatly to our understanding of how the lives of delinquent girls and women continue to be powerfully influenced by gender-related conditions of life. Profound sensitivity to these conditions is essential for understanding gender differences in type and frequency of crime, for explaining differences in the context or gestalt of offending, and for developing preventive and remedial programs aimed at female offenders.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawGender and Crime - Similarities In Male And Female Offending Rates And Patterns, Differences Between Male And Female Offending Patterns