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Human Services


Mary E. Bold


The incidence of female juvenile delinquency is increasing and, along with it, the need for effective age-appropriate rehabilitation. The purpose of this study was to address the lack of research regarding age-appropriate rehabilitation programs for female juvenile delinquents. This basic qualitative approach was used to uncover the perspectives of experienced caseworkers on the best practices and success of age-differentiated rehabilitation programming for female juvenile delinquents. Data were collected to answer the following guiding research question: What are the perspectives of caseworkers on rehabilitation programming for female juvenile delinquents, taking into account the age differences among the incarcerated youth population? Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory and Bandura’s social learning theory served as the theoretical framework. Data came from semistructured interviews with 12 qualified caseworkers in the rural southern United States. Participants had 2 or more years of experience in the juvenile justice system. Following coding and thematic analysis, 3 primary themes emerged to answer the research question: (a) there are distinct developmental and situational differences between younger and older adolescents, (b) caseworkers provide more individual than group treatment to female juvenile delinquents to personalize services according to each female’s age-specific needs, and (c) specialized rehabilitation programs are available to provide female juvenile delinquents of all ages with appropriate treatment. Implications for social change include using the findings of this study to devise and implement better, more successful rehabilitation programs for female juvenile delinquents, which would not only improve their trajectory but reduce the risk of recidivism and the danger to society.

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