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.
Joan A. Reid
Operating in the shadows created by recent technological advances in online communication, child pornographic exploitation (CPE) is considered among the most psychologically harmful types of cybercrime. In an era of unprecedented technological accessibility coupled with the perception of online anonymity, concerns have escalated regarding the proliferation of CPE and the excessive brutishness of child sexual abuse involved in the creation of new CPE content. Conversely, highly publicized cases have raised questions regarding overreach by police and courts when handling sexting juveniles as serious sex offenders. This essay examines emerging concerns over the redoubling of criminal justice resources devoted to combatting CPE in the last decade with a critical analysis of the evidence pertaining to the extent and nature of CPE and CPE content. The essay also highlights challenges to combatting CPE due to the widespread use of mobile technology and the anonymity of the Darknet.
Dana Hayward and Ross E. Cheit
Child sexual abuse is a significant moral, legal, and social problem. Approximately 5 to 8 per cent of adult men and 15 to 20 per cent of adult women in the United States experienced sexual abuse during childhood or adolescence. This essay provides an overview of major issues and debates concerning child sexual abuse, focusing primarily on the United States. It covers the prevalence of child sexual abuse, its effects on victims, why some individuals are more resilient than others, when and how victims of CSA disclose their abuse, the phenomenon of recantation and what it says about the credibility of abused children, how the judicial system deals with child sexual abuse, and how child sexual abuse can be prevented. The essay concludes by reflecting on the important relationship between scholarship and policy in the field of child sexual abuse research.
Explanations of child sex abuse typically focus on the offenders’ presumed pathological dispositions that are seen to drive their offending behavior, and pay little attention to the role played by opportunity and other situational factors. It is argued in this chapter that child sexual abuse, like all behavior, is the product of a person-situation interaction and as such can be analysed using the theories and approaches of environmental criminology. Child sexual abuse is found to occur in contexts where potential victims can be easily accessed and where personal, social, situational, and legal controls over potential offenders are weak. Establishing a situational basis for child sexual abuse opens the way for the application of situational crime prevention strategies to create safer places for children.
This essay explores key questions emerging from recent research with children who experience commercial child sexual exploitation. It examines the discrepancies between children’s right to be protected from all forms of violence, including sexual violence, and the right to express their views. Child protection has traditionally focused on protecting younger children from sexual abuse in the home, so a conceptual shift is needed to embrace the needs of older children who are making their own decisions about how to respond to and manage adversity. The author proposes a child protection system that understands the various forms of exploitation of children in public spaces and within the informal economies of drug and sex markets. The author argues for a ‘social model’ for contextualizing consent to sexual activity that takes into account the economic, social, and environmental pressures on young people.
Complicating the Immigration–Crime Nexus: Theorizing the Role of Gender in the Relationship Between Immigration and Crime
Glenn A. Trager and Charis E. Kubrin
Research on the immigration–crime nexus has reached a point where the overall contours of the relationship are fairly well established, but its details remain opaque. In particular, scholars are only just beginning to explore the various social dynamics underlying this relationship. This essay examines the role that gender plays in mediating the relationship between immigration and the criminogenic qualities of a community and identifies four contexts in which gender roles and stereotypes play an important role in shaping community-level social dynamics: (a) public perceptions of immigrant criminality, as well as policy responses to such perceptions; (b) the connection between immigration policy and community crime rates; (c) intimate-partner violence; and (d) social and political activism opposing the exploitation of immigrant workers.
Due to the under-representation of females, public officials have paid less attention to understanding their offending or to developing and assessing prevention and intervention strategies for them. Attention to female offenders is now considered important because their numbers are growing in all spheres of criminal justice. This article explains what is currently known about girls and their juvenile justice experiences. It discusses the difficulty that exists in identifying gender bias because of the nature of juvenile justice processing. It then describes data sources about the offending patterns of girls and boys and examines how gender appears to affect juvenile justice processing. Following this, the article identifies difficulties for girls in access to treatment and services. It highlights deficiencies in knowledge about female-specific treatment. Finally, it gives recommendations for an integrated framework to assist in learning more about the problems girls face and ways to make their experiences with juvenile justice systems successful.
Daniel J.R. Grey
This essay discusses the history of criminalized sexuality, primarily focusing on the ways in which this subject was dealt with in Europe between the sixteenth and twentieth century. It concentrates on three main themes within this field: the question of what constituted condoned and proscribed aspects of sexuality in this period, prostitution, and crimes relating to reproduction. In emphasising the cultural, geographic, and temporal specificities of how and why types of sexual and reproductive behavior might be labelled as either “normal” or “deviant,” such as same-sex desire or terminating a pregnancy, the essay cautions against making generalizations about sexuality and crime in particular regions or time periods and ultimately questions whether sexuality is a useful category of analysis.
Gail Hawkes and Xanthé Mallet
‘Sexuality’ is a fluid concept that has varied significantly across time and place. It is an aspect of social identity that means many different things to different people. The criminality of so-called deviant sexual behaviour is also socially constructed. The result is dissonance between the modern democratic notions of freedom of expression and current social sensibilities. This essay summarizes views toward acceptable sexual conduct throughout the Anglophone West, focusing on changes in British social attitudes and laws. It discusses the association of sex and sin that lay at the foundations of Western sexual morality. It follows the transformation of this connection through the secularization process associated with modernity and demonstrates the role of medical knowledge and practice in this regard. Changes to legislation over time will be used as evidence of shifting social attitudes, such as laws regarding the sexualized child, homosexual relationships, and rape within marriage.
Danielle Arlanda Harris and Rebecca M. Cudmore
Although it has received comparatively little research attention, the phenomenon of desistance from sexual offending is just as inevitable as the process of desistance from general crime. This article reviews the current state of knowledge regarding how and why men convicted of sexual offenses come to deescalate or desist from such behaviors. Next, it describes the relevant theoretical explanations of desistance and behavioral change that have emerged from both criminology and psychology. Finally, desistance is discussed in light of the impact of current public policies and recently enacted sex offender–specific legislation. Areas for future empirical research and public policy are highlighted.
Patrick Lussier and Arjan A. J. Blokland
This essay examines theoretical, methodological, and empirical knowledge about the activation, course, and desistance from sex offending. The authors discuss theoretical issues and controversies regarding the origins and development and sex offending. Methodological issues in the measurement of sex offending and sex offending careers are reviewed, and an organizing conceptual criminal career framework is proposed to study sex offending. The current state of knowledge is presented regarding the criminal careers of juvenile sex offenders and associated developmental correlates, as well as the criminal careers of adult sex offenders and associated developmental correlates. A comparative analysis is provided of juvenile and adult sex offending careers and the respective correlates, noting developmental similarities and differences. Finally, a developmentally informed integrated model of sex offending is presented to stimulate research and policy discussion regarding the prevention of sexual violence and abuse.