Adolescent Crime and Victimization: Sex and Gender Differences, Similarities, and Emerging Intersections
This essay examines sex/gender differences and similarities in offending and victimization among young people. Gender differences are pronounced for violent behaviors and smaller for minor property crime. Females have a greater risk of sexual victimization, while males have higher rates of other types of victimization. The essay examines how these patterns are influenced by status characteristics such as race, ethnicity, neighborhood, country, sexuality, immigration status, and social class. It also reviews a number of classical criminological explanations for sex/gender differences and similarities—general strain theory, social and self-control theories, symbolic interactionist perspectives, and social learning theories—as well as several intersectional approaches, including feminist perspectives, power-control theory, and relational schema theory. The essay concludes with a discussion of directions for future research.
Kristen M. Zgoba
This essay begins with a review of public reaction to sexual offenses and the rise in social awareness that sex offenses have promoted. Statistics exploring the prevalence of sexual abuse in the United States and the United Kingdom will be given. As a result of a number of widely publicized sexual abuse cases (particularly child sexual abuse cases), a variety of laws applied to sexual offenders have been enacted from 1990 to 2010. Although different, these policies tend to center around four common themes: sex offender registration and notification, civil commitment, residency restrictions, and risk assessment. The essay examines these legislative efforts to assess their effectiveness at reducing sexually offensive behaviors and discusses the controversies surrounding such legislation.
Paul M.G. Emmelkamp and Fleur L. Kraanen
Substance use and criminal behaviour often go hand in hand, and sexual crimes are no exception. This essay on alcohol and drug use in relation to sexual offending aims to provide a brief overview of the relevant literature on this topic. An important difficulty that arises when discussing the relationship between substance misuse and sexual offending is that both sex offenses and substance misuse are very broadly defined categories. Sex offenses may comprise rape, child molestation, and downloading child pornography, to name a few. The nature of the relationship between substance use and sex offenses may vary for different types of sex offenses.
Richard B. Felson
This essay suggests that activist rhetoric and imprecise language should be discarded when studying gender and violence. Violence against women should be compared to violence against men and not studied in isolation. It should be studied primarily as violence not sexism, based on well-established principles from the social psychology of aggression. Such an approach emphasizes the violent actor’s point of view and the role of interpersonal conflict, self-presentation, grievance, and retribution. Power and control may play a role in violence against men and women, but other motives are also important. In addition, theorizing should consider well-known sex differences in physical size, sexuality, and emotion. Men’s stronger bodies and sexual interests, and women’s greater tendency to get angry, have important implications. Finally, chivalry should be an important element in any discussion of violence against women. Violence against women occurs despite (not because of) societal norms.
The Benefits and Penalties of Gender for Criminal Justice Processing Outcomes Among Adults and Juveniles
Theodore R. Curry
This essay examines recent research on gender and criminal justice processing outcomes and makes three broad conclusions. First, the benefits of gender that accrue to female offenders are general, appearing for juveniles and adults, across a variety of offenses and decision-making points, independent of race or ethnicity, and even internationally. Second, the gender penalty paid by male offenders is greatest for young black and Hispanic men. Third, outcomes are harsher when crime victims are female, especially white female, and when offenders are also male. These conclusions are largely consistent with proposed integrations of focal concerns theory with chivalry and conflict theories. Substantial gaps, however, remain for key issues such as whether being “familied” explains gender benefits and whether gender influences outcomes for status offenses. Furthermore, research on how the crime victim’s gender affects criminal justice processing is limited. Clearly, though, gender has substantial impacts on processing outcomes that merit increased theoretical and empirical attention.
Gabrielle Ferrales and Suzy Maves McElrath
Gender-based violence is one of the oldest sustaining features of war but has received significant scholarly attention only in the past two decades. Much of this work, however, focuses selectively on sexual violence, specifically rape by men against women. Mirroring the focus of recent social science research, this essay reviews the treatment of gender-based violence during recent and ongoing conflicts, identifying three theoretical paradigms that offer explanations for this violence based on gender inequality theory, social control theory, and strategies of warfare. The essay recommends that future researchers employ a more expansive conception of gender-based violence, deconstruct the dichotomous understanding of victim and perpetrator, and afford greater attention to the role of intersectionality in explaining gender-based violence during war. Such a reconceptualization will advance our understanding of the multitude forms gender-based violence assumes during armed conflict and facilitate more adequate theoretical explanations for the phenomenon.
Jill Portnoy, Frances R. Chen, Yu Gao, Sharon Niv, Robert A. Schug, Yaling Yang, and Adrian Raine
This essay reviews research in the domains of genetics, structural brain imaging, neuropsychology, psychophysiology, and hormones in order to examine (a) whether the same risk factors that are characteristic of antisocial behavior in males are also associated with these behaviors in females and (b) whether biological sex differences could underlie the sex difference in antisocial behavior. Only a few studies examine the biological correlates of antisocial behavior in females, but they find that many of the same biological risk factors appear to characterize both male and female behavior. There is also suggestive evidence that sex differences in biological factors underlie sex differences in antisocial behavior, although candidate biological factors have been subjected to little empirical testing. In general, there is promising evidence that biosocial research could make important contributions to our understanding of sex differences in antisocial behavior.
Kali N. Gross
This essay offers a concise overview of black women’s experiences with early criminal justice, beginning with the colonial period and ending in the early twentieth century. It also identifies aspects of the historiography on black women and crime that merit greater scholarly attention. Historians have examined race and violence, particularly interracial violence, but should also explore intraracial violence in relation to gender, crime, and criminal justice. In an attempt to address some of these gaps, this chapter provides an overview of the incarceration of black women in the United States and explores intraracial intimate partner violence through a late nineteenth-century Philadelphia case. In doing so, it especially examines the conduct and motives of the black woman at the center of the crime.
Scholarship on race, crime, and justice often remains gender blind. Researchers cannot fully understand the influences of race and racism without serious consideration of its gendered dimensions. Distressed minority communities in urban settings have disproportionate rates of violence against women. Structural, organizational, and cultural characteristics heighten gendered risks, including high rates of other crime; male domination of public community spaces; environmental features of neighborhoods; the reluctance of community members to intervene in violence, including the mistreatment of women and girls; acute distrust of the police; and the dominance of cultural norms that support gender inequality and the sexual objectification of young women. Such violence is a critical social problem in need of careful theoretical and policy attention, and is an integral facet of the gendering of racial inequality.
Kathleen Malley-Morrison and Denise A. Hines
This article summarizes current knowledge concerning child abuse in the United States. It discusses major approaches to assess the incidence and prevalence of child abuse, including the national family violence surveys (NFVS), national incidence studies (NIS), and national child abuse and neglect data system (NCANDS) surveys. It mentions the estimates of abuse rates provided by the different data sources, apparent changes in prevalence rates over time, and possible explanations of these changes. This article considers ethnic differences in rates of child abuse and data relating to these differences. It provides an overview of competing definitions of child abuse and the major theories for its occurrence. It concludes with the description of the criminal justice system's response to the problem and implications of research for public policy.