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Delinquency
Prevention Program: A Hypothetical Approach

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Delinquency
prevention programs are tasked with the role of rehabilitating juvenile delinquents
through constructive behavior change so that they become productive members of
the society. At the same time, they are to provide protection, cater to the needs
and rights of the delinquents, while ensuring they do not cause any further
harm to the public. However, due to the history of most offenders being males,
the policies and procedures are designed to suit their needs at the expense of
female offenders. Nevertheless, studies have shown that the percentage of
female delinquents is on the rise and a contributing attribute to the failure of
the programs in adequately addressing the needs of females. If I were a
director at a delinquency prevention program, I would create separate programs for
boys and girls because differences in gender not only influence the committing
of offences in the first place, but also have an effect on whether delinquents are
effectively rehabilitated.

One
of the reasons why I would consider gender-specific delinquency prevention
programs is because the mental health, emotional well-being, and experiences of
boys and girls are different. These factors have a great impact on the nature
of offences that they end up committing in order to require rehabilitation. Hence,
a program that is not tailor made for each gender would lead them to become
offenders or repeat offenders. In addition, studies have shown that most female
delinquents experience higher rates of sexual and physical abuse than their
male counterparts do. The figures suggest that over 70% of female offenders have
experienced a physical or sexual ordeal compared to 4% and 32% of male delinquents
who have suffered physical and sexual abuse respectively (Zahn et al. 2008). Hence,
I would have the unique needs and issues of female delinquents such as trauma, mental
health, pregnancy, and parenting that may result, addressed in a separate but
safe and supportive women-focused program. I feel that this would be more effective
in preventing further delinquency among the girls.

Another
ground on why I would advocate for separate delinquency prevention programs instead
of joint programs is in the context of appearance, personal development, and self-identity
(Greene et al., 1998). Gilligan (1982) discusses moral reasoning in the manner
in which it values or devalues the behavior and self-esteem of girls. She
points out that while boys shape their identity in relation to the world, the
identity of girls depends on how they relate with others. Therefore, I would
emphasize on a separate delinquency program because the sense of self among
female offenders would manifest and develop differently in a gender-specific programs
as opposed to co-ed programs. This is because it promotes a support system to
help female offenders develop healthy relationships (Greene et al., 1998). Again,
since the conventional juvenile programs are designed for male offenders, they
are more restrictive and it would be essential to have a less restrictive program
for female offenders. This is to ensure that the level of security is commensurate
to the rehabilitation needs and concerns for public safety.

An
additional basis as to why I would consider gender-specific delinquency prevention
programs over combined programs is because research suggests that, compared to
boys, delinquent girls have completely different profiles (Zahn et al. 2009). This
is despite the offences committed being similar. For instance, the girls are
likely to run away compared to boys, especially in dysfunctional homes, which
presents a risk factor in delinquency prevention programs (Bloom et al. 2002). Further
research reveals that compared to  boys,
girls are more affected by mental health conditions such as depression, trauma,
separation anxiety, and stress disorder (Huefner and Mason 2009; Vincent et al.
2008; Zahn et al. 2009). Since female offenders in such programs are usually
younger (15 to 16 years), and are detained for less serious offenses than the boys
are, it would be prudent to have each of them in their own prescribed rehabilitation
programs (Zahn et al. 2009).

Finally,
I would choose separate programs to delinquency treatment between boys and
girls in correspondence to the approach in treatment. Studies suggest that in conventional
juvenile systems, there exists a gender bias in the approach of rehabilitation where
stereotypical gender roles and sexist policies are applied, and appropriate behavior
is reinforced or rewarded (Gelsethorpe 1989). For instance, girls are
encouraged to acquire skills such as cooking that would make them better wives
or mothers, while the boys are encouraged to take up sports (Gelsethorpe 1989).
Therefore, by choosing a gender-specific delinquency prevention program, the
services delivery and treatment approach would focus on nurturing each group’s
competencies to encourage independence and self-reliance. This approach, I
believe would promote equality not in the sense that the girls would get the
same service delivery reserved for boys, but in terms of getting opportunities
that are relevant to them.

Conclusively,
my holistic rational in creating gender-specific delinquency prevention
programs is that although some aspects of female and male offenders may
overlap, gender differences have to be taken into account. The separate needs
of both genders, especially the female offender have to be identified and
addressed  effectively for successful
treatment. This is because female delinquents present unique and different circumstances
than their male counterparts. To illustrate, most delinquent girls are charged
with nonviolent or status offences, and thus are a minor threat to public safety
as opposed to boys who commit much serious offences. Hence, they present a
distinct opportunity to create and implement policy alternatives that accelerate
treatment without compromising public safety.

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