Objective: Debate ensues regarding female-specific risk and strength factors among adolescent offenders. Using meta-analysis, we examined whether risk and strength factors predicted recidivism differentially between male and female youth.
Method: Database searches identified 22 studies, representing 50,601 justice-involved youth (11,952 females and 38,649 males) and a total of 584 effect sizes.
Results: For the global risk domains, there is some evidence for gender neutrality (i.e., risk factors predict to the same degree for both males and females) among most domains (e.g., antisocial peer relations, problematic family circumstances and parenting, substance abuse, antisocial personality/behavior, and antisocial attitudes/orientation). Although the global domains of mental health and child abuse were not significantly predictive for either gender, the global child abuse results trended in favor of predicting recidivism for females. When global risk domains were broken into indicators, some evidence for gender differences emerged (e.g., chronic alcohol use and family substance abuse predicted more strongly for females than for males). Last, gender comparisons among the global strength domains revealed that prosocial peers and the absence of substance abuse predicted success (i.e., no recidivism) for both genders, though a stronger effect emerged for males. In addition, education/employment strengths predicted success for males, whereas prosocial values predicted success for females. Limitations such as the lack of studies that defined constructs from the female experience, and the small number of primary studies are discussed.
Conclusions: Advancing the future of gender informed practice with justice-involved youth will require careful consideration of both gender similarities and differences.
Scott, T., & Brown, S. L.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(11), 2018