Wake Forest Law Review
Early juvenile courts emphasized a child's "best interests" and treated youths differently based on personal characteristics such as race and gender. 1 Progressive reformers expected judges to handle boys and girls differently because their circumstances and needs differed. 2 Juvenile courts processed boys primarily for criminal behavior and girls for noncriminal status offenses - e.g. runaway, incorrigibility, or sexual precocity. 3 In the 1970s, efforts to deinstitutionalize status offenders led to substantial declines in the numbers of girls detained and confined for noncriminal misconduct. 4 More recently, juvenile justice officials and the public perceived an increase in violent crimes like simple assault committed by girls. 5 This, in turn, led policy makers and scholars to reexamine changing patterns of offending and the role of gender in the juvenile justice system. 6
Barry C. Feld, Questioning Gender: Police Interrogation of Delinquent Girls, 49 Wake Forest L. Rev. 1059 (2014), available at http://scholarship.law.umn.edu/faculty_articles/297.