Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 5
  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: September 2009

9 - Prevention of antisocial behaviour in females


Sound preventive interventions to target antisocial behaviour among girls depends on reliable empirical data to address three primary questions. First, what are the rates and patterns of involvement in antisocial behaviour among females? Second, what are the predictors and correlates of involvement in antisocial behaviour among females? Third, is there any evidence of programme impact of interventions for females and is there any evidence of differential impact due to gender? In this chapter, I review the available empirical literature to summarise the state of our knowledge to address these questions to guide prevention efforts.

However, it is clear that the ability of the review to be informative for guiding prevention is constrained because there are limited data available that focus specifically on girls. Also, there are several issues that limit the ability to interpret much of the data that do exist. Therefore, the first part of the chapter focuses on three major issues that have constrained the state of knowledge regarding antisocial behaviour and girls: (1) lack of inclusion of girls in studies of antisocial behaviour, (2) differences in the behaviours that might define antisocial behaviour among girls and the long-term outcomes associated with antisocial behaviour in childhood for women and (3) the inclusion of gender in theory development. The second part of the chapter proposes an approach that can overcome these limitations and through which the development of antisocial behaviour for both males and females might be understood.

Adler, F. (1975) Sisters in Crime. New York: McGraw-Hill
Anglin, D. and Hser, Y. (1987) Addicted women and crime. Criminology, 25, 359–97
Avery, L. and Gorman-Smith, D. (1998) Child Abuse, Neglect, and Violence. Unpublished manuscript
Bardone, A. M., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Dickson, N., Stanton, W. R. and Silva, P. A. (1996) Adult mental health and social outcomes of adolescent girls with depression and conduct disorder. Developmental Psychopathology, 8, 811–29
Bardone, A. M., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Dickson, N., Stanton, W. R. and Silva, P. A. (1996) Adult physical health outcomes of adolescent girls with conduct disorder, depression, and anxiety. Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 37, (6), 594–601
Bjorkqvist, K. and Niemela, P. (1992) New trends in the study of female aggression. In K. Bjorkqvist and P. Niemala. (eds.), Of Mice and Women: Aspects of Female Aggression. (pp. 1–16). San Diego, CA: Academic Press
Block, J. (1983) Differential premises arising from differential socialization of the sexes: Some conjectures. Child Development, 54, 1335–54
Boyce, W. T., Frank, E., Jensen, P. S., Kessler, R. C., Nelson, C. A. and Steinberg, L. (1998) Social context in developmental psychopathology: Recommendations for future research from the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Psychopathology and Development. Development and Psychopathology, 10, (2), 143–64
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979) The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1986) Ecology of the family as a context for human development. American Psychologist, 32, 513–31
Brook, J. S., Nomura, C. and Cohen, P. (1989) A network of influences on adolescent drug involvement: Neighborhood, school, peer, and family. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 115, (1), 125–45
Browne, A. and Finklehor, D. (1986) Impact of child sexual abuse: A review of Research. Psychological Bulletin, 99, 66–77
Cairns, R. B. and Cairns, B. D. (1986) The developmental-interactional view of social behavior: Four issues of adolescent aggression. In D. Olweus J. Block, and M. Radke-Yarrow (eds.), Development of Antisocial and Prosocial Behavior (pp. 315–42). New York: Academic Press
Cairns, R. B. and Cairns, B. D. (1994) Lifelines and Risk: Pathways of Youth in Our Time. Cambridge University Press
Cairns, R. B., Cairns, B. D., Neckerman, H. J., Ferguson, L. L. and Gariepy, J. L. (1989) Growth and aggression: I. Childhood to early adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 25, 320–30
Cairns, R. B., Elder, G. H. and Costello, E. J. (1996) Developmental Science. New York: Cambridge University Press
Calhoun, G., Jurgens, J. and Chen, F. (1993) The neophyte female delinquent: A review of the literature. Adolescence, 28, (110), 461–71
Canter, R. J. (1982) Family correlates of male and female delinquency. Criminology, 20, 149–67
Capaldi, D. and Gorman-Smith, D. (in press) Physical and psychological aggression in male/female adolescent and young adult couples. In P. Florsheim, (ed.) Adolescent Romance and Sexual Behavior: Theory, Research and Practical Implications. Los Angeles: LEA associates
Caspi, A. and Moffitt, T. E. (1991) Individual differences are accentuated during periods of social change: The sample case of girls at puberty. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 157–68
Caspi, A., Lynam, D., Moffitt, T. E. and Silva, P. A. (1993) Unraveling girls' delinquency: Biological, dispositional, and contextual contributions to adolescent misbehavior. Developmental Psychology, 29, 19–30
Cernkovich, S. A. and Giordano, P. C. (1979) A comparative analysis of male and female delinquency. Sociological Quarterly, 20, 131–45
Chesney-Lind, M. (1973) Judicial enforcement of the female sex role. Issues in Criminology, 3, 51–71
Chesney-Lind, M. (1989) Girls' crime and woman's place: Toward a feminist model of female delinquency. Crime and Delinquency, 35, (1), 5–29
Chesney-Lind, M. (1997) The Female Offender: Girls, Women and Crime. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
Chesney-Lind, M. and Brown, M. (1998) Girls and violence. In Flannery, D. J. and Huff. C. R. (eds.). Youth Violence: Prevention, Intervention, and Social Policy. (pp. 171–99). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press
Chesney-Lind, M. and Rodriquez, N. (1983) Women under lock and key. Prison Journal, 63, 47–65
Chesney-Lind, M. and Shelden, R. G. (1992) Girls, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole
Cicchetti, D. and Aber, J. L. (1998) Contextualism and developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 4, 489–93
Cohen, P., Cohen, J., Kasen, S., Velez, C. N., Hartmark, C., Johnson, J.Rojas, M., Brook, J. and Streuning, E. L. (1993) An epidemiological study of disorders in late childhood and adolescence- I. age- and gender-specific prevalence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 34, 851–67
Crick, N. R. and Grotpeter, J. K. (1995) Relational aggression, gender, and social-psychological adjustment. Child Development, 66, (3), 710–22
Crick, N. R., Bigbee, M. and Howes, C. (1996) Gender differences in children's normative beliefs about aggression: How do I hurt thee? Let me count the ways. Child Development, 67, 1003–14
Crick, N. R., Wellman, N. E., Casas, J. F., O'Brien, K. M., Nelson, D. A., Grotpeter, J. K. and Markon, K. (in press). Childhood aggression and gender: A new look at an old problem. In D. Berstein (ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, vol. 45
Daly, K. (1994) Gender, Crime, and Punishment. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
DeJong, A. R., Hervada, A. R. and Emmett, G. A. (1983) Epidemiologic variations in childhood sexual abuse. Child Abuse and Neglect, 7, 155–62
Doerner, W. G. (1987) Child maltreatment seriousness and juvenile delinquency. Youth and Society, 19, (2), 197–224
Elliott, D. S. (1994) Serious violent offenders: Onset, developmental course, and termination-the American society of criminology 1993 presidential address. Criminology, 32, 1–21
Elliott, D. S., Huizinga, D. A. and Ageton, S. S. (1985) Explaining Delinquency and Drug Use. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage
Farrell, A. D. and Meyer, A. L. (1997) The effectiveness of a school-based curiculum for reducing violence among urban sixth-grade students. American Journal of Public Health, 87, 979–84
Farrington, D. P. and Welsh, B. C. (1999) Delinquency prevention using family-based interventions. Children and Society, 13, 287–303
Farrington, D. P. and West, D. J. (1995) Effects of marriage, separation, and children on offending by adult males. In Z. Blau Smith and J. Hagan (eds.), Current Perspectives on Aging and the Life Cycle. vol. 4. (pp. 249–81). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press
Figueira-McDonough, J. (1985) Are girls different? Gender discrepancies between delinquent behavior and control. Child Welfare, 64, 273–89
Finklehor, D. and Baron, L. (1986) Risk factors for child sexual abuse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1, 43–71
Gilfus, M. (1992) From victims to survivors to offenders: Women's routes of entry and immersion into street crime. Women Crim. Justice, 4: 63–89
Giordano, P. C., Cernkovich, S. A. and Pugh, M. D. (1986) Friendships and delinquency. American Journal of Sociology, 91, 1170–202
Glueck, S. and Glueck, E. (1950) Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency. New York: Commonwealth Fund
Gorman-Smith, D., Tolan, P. H. and Henry, D. (1999) The relation of community and family to risk among urban poor adolescents. In P. Cohen and L. N. Robins, C. Slomkowski (eds.), Historical and Geographical Influences on Psychopathology (pp. 349–67). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum
Gorman-Smith, D., Tolan, P. H. and Henry, D. (2000) A developmental-ecological model of the relation of family functioning to patterns of delinquency. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 16, 169–98
Gorman-Smith, D., Tolan, P. H., Zelli, A. and Huesmann, L. R. (1996) The relation of family functioning to violence among inner-city minority youth. Journal of Family Psychology, 10, 115–29
Hagan, J., Gillis, A. and Simpson, J. (1993) The power of control in sociological theories of delinquency. In F. Adler and W. Laufer (eds.), Advances in Criminological Theory. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction
Havighurst, R. J., Bowman, P. H., Liddle, G. P., Matthews, C. V. and Pierce, J. V. (1962) Growing Up in River City. New York: John Wiley
Hawkins, J. D., Cleve, E. and Catalano, R. F. (1991) Reducing early childhood aggression: Results of a primary prevention program. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30, 208–17
Henggeler, S. W., Edwards, J. and Borduin, C. M. (1987) The family relations of female juvenile delinquents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 15, 199–209
Hirschi, T. (1969) Causes of Delinquency. Berkeley: University of California Press
Howing, P., Wodarski, J. S., Kurtz, P. D., Gaudin, J. M. Jr. and Herbst, E. N. (1990) Child abuse and delinquency: The empirical and theoretical links. Social Work, 35, 244–9
Huizinga, D. and Elliott, D. (1986) Reassessing the reliability and validity of self-report delinquency measures. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 2, 293–327
Jensen, G. J. and Eve, R. (1976) Sex differences in delinquency: an examination of popular sociological explanations. Criminology: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 13 (4), 427–48
Kellam, S. G., Mayer, L. S., Rebok, G. W. and Hawkins, W. E. (1998) Effects of improving achievement on aggressive behavior and of improving aggressive behavior on achievement through two preventive interactions: An investigation of causal paths. In B. Dohrenwend (ed.), Adversity, Stress, and Psychopathology (pp. 486–505). New York: Oxford University Press
Kellam, S. G., Simon, M. and Ensminger, M. (1983) Antecedents in first grade of teenage substance abuse and psychological well being. In D. Ricks and B. Dohrenwend (eds.), Origins of psychopathology. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press
Kelley, B. T., Thornberry, T. P. and Smith, C. A. (August, 1997) In the wake of Childhood Maltreatment. Washington, DC: Juvenile Justice Bulletin
Kruttschnitt, C. (1993) Violence by and against women: A cooperative and cross-national analysis. Violence and Victims, vol. 8(3), 253–70
Kruttschnitt, C. (1994) Gender and interpersonal violence. In J. Roth and A. Reiss (eds.), Understanding and Preventing Violence: vol. 3: Social Influences (pp. 293–376). Washington, DC: National Academy Press
Laub, J. H. and McDermott, M. J. (1985) An analysis of serious crime by young black women. Criminology, 23, 81–98
Lefkowitz, M. M., Eron, L. D., Walder, L. O. and Huesmann, L. R. (1977) Growing Up to Be Violent. New York: Pergamon
Lewis, D. O., Yeager, C. A., Cobham-Portorreal, C. S., Klein, N., Showalter, C. and Anthony, A. (1991) A follow-up of female delinquents: Maternal contributions to the perpetuation of deviance. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30, 197–201
Lipsey, M. (1992) Juvenile delinquency treatment: A meta-analytic inquiry in the variability of effects. In T. A. Cook, H. Cooper, D. S. Corday, H. Hartmann, L. V. Hedges, R. J. Light, T. A. Louis and F. Mosleller (eds.) Meta-analysis for Explanation: A Casebook (pp. 83–126). New York: Russell Sage
Loeber, R. and Farrington, D. P. (1997) Strategies and yields of longitudinal studies on antisocial behavior. In D. M. Stoff, J. Breiling and J. D. Maser (eds.), Handbook of Antisocial Behavior. (pp. 125–39). New York: Wiley
Loeber, R. and Farrington, D. P. (1998) Conclusions and the way forward. In Loeber, R. and Farrington, D. P. (eds), Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders: Risk Factors and Successful Interventions (pp. 405–27). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Loeber, R. and Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1986) Family factors as correlates and predictors of juvenile conduct problems and delinquency. In M. Tonry and Morris, N. (eds), Crime and Justice vol. 7 (pp. 29–149). University of Chicago Press
Loper, A. B. and Cornell, D. G. (1996) Homicide by girls. Journal of Family and Child Studies, 5, 321–33
McCord, J. (1982) A longitudinal view of the relationship between paternal absence and crime. In J. Gunn and D. P. Farrington (eds.), Abnormal Offenders, Delinquency, and the Criminal Justice System (pp. 113–28). Chichester: Wiley
McDonald, C. D. and O'Laughlin, E. M. (1997) Relational Aggression and Risk Behaviors in Middle School Students. Poster presented at the bi-annual meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development. Washington, DC
Morash, M. and Chesney-Lind, M. (1991) A reformulation and partial test of the power control theory of delinquency. Justice Quarterly, 8, 347–76
Morey, L. C. (1991) The Personality Assessment Inventory: Professional manual. Psychological Assessment Resources
Pajer, K. A. (1998) What happens to “bad” girls? A review of the adult outcomes of antisocial adolescent girls. American Journal of Psychiatry, 115, (7), 862–70
Patterson, G. R., Reid, J. B. and Dishion, T. J. (1992) Antisocial Boys: A Social Interactional Approach (vol. 4). Eugene, OR: Castalia
Pettiway, L. E. (1997) Workin' It: Women Living through Drugs and Crime. Philadelphia: Temple University Press
Phelps, R. J. et al. (1982) Wisconsin Female Juvenile Offender Study Project Summary Report. Wisconsin: Youth Policy and Law Center, Wisconsin Council on Juvenile Justice
Poe-Yamagata, E. and Butts, J. A. (1996) Female Offenders in the Juvenile Justice System: Statistics Summary. Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice
Richters, J. E. and Cicchetti, D. (1993) Mark Twain meets DSM-Ⅲ-R: Conduct disorder, development, and the concept of harmful dysfunction. Development and Psychopathology, 5, 5–29
Robins, L. N. (1966) Deviant Children Grown Up: A Sociological and Psychiatric Study of Sociopathic Personality. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins
Robins, L. N. (1986) The consequences of conduct disorder in girls. In Olweus, D., Block, J. and Radke-Yarrow, M. (eds.) Development of Antisocial and Prosocial Behavior: Research, Theories, and Issues (pp. 385–409). New York: Academic Press
Robins, L. N. and Price, R. K. (1991) Adult disorders predicted by childhood conduct problems: Results from the NIMH Epidemiologic Catchment Area Project. Psychiatry, 54, 116–32
Sampson, R. J. and Laub, J. H. (1994) Urban poverty and the family context of delinquency: A new look at structure and process in a classic study. Child Development, 65, (2), 523–39
Scudder, R. G., Blount, W. R., Heide, K. M. and Silverman, I. J. (1993) Important links between child abuse, neglect, and delinquency. International Journal of Offender Therapy & Comparative Criminology, 37, (4), 315–23
Shaw, C. and McKay, H. (1942) Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas. University of Chicago Press
Simon, R. (1975) The Contemporary Woman and Crime. Washington, DC: National Institute of Mental Health
Smith, C. and Thornberry, T. (1995) The relationship between childhood maltreatment and adolescent involvement in delinquency. Criminology, 33, (4), 451–79
Snell, T. L. and Morton, D. C. (1994) Women in Prison. Special report. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Deptartment of Justice
Snyder, H., Finnegan, T. A., Nimick, E. H., Sickmund, M. H., Sullivan, D. P. and Tierney, N. J. (1989) Juvenile Court Statistics 1985. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice
Snyder, H. N. and Sickmund, M. (1995) Juvenile Offenders and Victims: A Focus on Violence. Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice
Sommers, I. and Baskin, D. (1992) Sex, race, age, and violent offending. Violence and Victims, 7, 191–201
Spaccarelli, S. (1994) Stress, appraisal, and coping in child sexual abuse: a theoretical and empirical review. Psychological Bulletin, 116, (2), 340–62
Stattin, H. and Magnusson, D. (1990) Pubertal Maturation in Female Development. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
Steffensmeier, D. (1983) Sex-segregation in the underworld: Building a sociological explanation of sex differences in crime. Social Forces, 61, 1010–32
Steffensmeier, D. (1993) National trends in female arrests, 1960–1990: assessment and recommendations for research. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 9, 413–41
Steffensmeier, D. and Allan, E. (1995) Gender, age, and crime. In J. Sheley (ed.) Handbook of Contemporary Criminology. New York: Wadsworth
Steffensmeier, D. and Allan, E. (1995) Gender and crime: toward a gendered theory of female offending. Annual Review of Sociology, 22, 459–87
Steffensmeier, D., Allan, E. and Streifel, C. (1989) Development and female crime: a cross-national test of alternative explanation. Social Forces, 68, 262–83
Synder, H. N. and Finnegan, T. A. (1987) Delinquency in the United States. Washington, DC: Department of Justice
Szapocznik, J. and Coatsworth, J. D. (1999) An ecodevelopemental framework for organizing the influences on drug abuse: a developmental model of risk and protection. In M. Glantz and C. R. Hartel (eds.) Drug Abuse: Origins and Interventions. Washington DC: American Psychological Association
Szapocznik, J., Gorman-Smith, D., Coatsworth, J. D. and Tolan, P. (1998) Families, Ecodevelopment, and Drug Abuse Prevention. Unpublished manuscript
Triplett, R. and Myers, L. (1995) Evaluating contextual patterns of delinquency: Gender based differences. Justice Quarterly, 12, 59–79
Tolan, P. H. and Guerra, N. (1994) What Works in Reducing Adolescent Violence: An Empirical Review of the Field. Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. Boulder, CO: University of Colorado
Tolan, P. G., Guerra, N. and Kendall, P. C. (1995) An developmental-ecological perspective on anti-social behavior in children and adolescents: Toward a unified risk and intervention framework. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, (4), 579–84
Warr, M. (1998) Life course transitions and desistance from crime. Criminology, 36(2), 183–216
Wassermann, G. A. and Miller, L. (1998) The prevention of serious and violent juvenile offending. In R. Loeber and D. Farrington (eds.), Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders: Risk Factors and Successful Interventions. (pp. 197–247). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Wellman, N. E. and Crick, N. R. (1998) Relational and Physical Aggression and Social-Psychological Adjustment in a College Sample. Unpublished manuscript, University of Minnesota
Werner, E. (1992) The children of Kauai: resiliency and recovery in adolescence and adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Health, 13 (4), 262–68
Werner, E. E. and Smith, R. S. (1992) Overcoming the Odds: High Risk Children from Birth to Adulthood. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press
Widom, C. S. (1989) Child abuse, neglect and violent criminal behavior. Criminology, 27, 251–71
Widom, C. S. and White, H. R. (1997) Problem behaviours in abused and neglected children grown up: Prevalence and co-occurrence of substance abuse, crime and violence. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 7, (4), 287–310
Wikstrom, P. H. and Loeber, R. (2000) Do disadvantaged neighborhoods cause well-adusted children to become adolescent delinquents? A study of male juvenile serious offending, individual risk and protective factors, and neighborhood context. Criminology, 38, (4), 1109–42
Zingraff, M. T., Leiter, J., Myers, K. A. and Johnson, M. C. (1993) Child maltreatment and youthful problem behavior. Criminology, 31, (2), 173–202
Zoccolillo, M. (1993) Gender and the development of conduct disorder. Development and Psychopathology, 5, 65–78
Zoccolillo, M., Pickles, A., Quinton, D. and Rutter, M. (1992) The outcome of childhood conduct disorder: Implications for defining adult personality disorder and conduct disorder. Psychol. Med., 22, 971–86
Zoccolillo, M. and Rogers, K. (1991) Characteristics and outcome of hospitalized adolescent girls with conduct disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30, 973–81