Characteristics of Female Youth Offenders in New Zealand [2018]

Female youth offending is poorly understood, despite increased rates of such offending. Research indicates there are a range of factors that have a causal impact on the development of offending in young people. This study investigated risk factors using a retrospective file audit of 184 female youth offenders in New Zealand. The findings were classified using Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model, which highlights the different contextual levels that influence behavior, including individual, family, peer, school, community, and cultural factors. The results indicate that there are significant risk factors for female youth offenders. There were high rates of mental health difficulties, drug use, histories of maltreatment, family stressors, peer issues, and school behavior problems in the cohort. There was very little difference between violent and nonviolent offenders. All the young women had risk factors affecting them at many levels. Targeted, multisystemic intervention and prevention programs are therefore needed to address female youth offending.

Stacey Lim, Ian Lambie, Annik van Toledo

International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, September 10, 2018