Delinquent Girls: Victims and/or Guilty?
Dominique Duprez, sociologist, Research Director at CNRS, CESDIP, Élise Lemercier, Lecturer in sociology, DySoLa University of Rouen, and Cindy Duhamel, psychologist at the Youth Legal Protection Service (PJJ), University of Rouen present the findings of a research financed by the French Ministry of Justice
Since offences committed by girls were viewed as statistically negligible, for a long time they received little attention from the social sciences. The research project presented in this paper aims at shedding some light on the life course of girls under criminal justice control following some offence, based on their life histories and on interviews with professionals working with them. When we met these girls, they were supervised by the Youth Judicial Protection Service in a community-based setting and/or were sentenced to custodial care or imprisonment. The girls to whom we had access had already undergone a labelling process, so that we make no pretence of casting light on the delinquent careers of girls in general, particularly since they are usually maintained within a juvenile protection scheme longer than boys.
This investigation breaks with the stereotyped perception of female offenders as passive victims and/or manipulated by men, in which the offenses they commit are ascribed to a presumed “lack of femininity”. Our approach, part of the new current which analyses offending with a gender-based theoretical stance, emphasizes the process of (re)production of feminine and masculine attributes and the underlying power relations. This study also differs in its use of both sociological and psychological approaches for a more effective deconstruction of pseudo-psychological discourse on these girls’ supposed “feminine nature” or “lack of femininity”.
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