Girls in Justice

Schedule & Agenda

Below is our full calendar of Symposium events. Click on a calendar listing to get a more detailed description of the event, view your speakers and panelists, and access the presentation and materials. Some webinars and details are still being confirmed. Please check back on this page for newly added events and updated times.

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In this fascinating and in-depth webinar, Drs. Gena Castro-Rodriguez and Elizabeth Cauffman presented on trauma and other risk factors that lead girls to delinquency in a panel moderated by Symposium partner Patricia Lee of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. Dr. Castro-Rodriguez, of the Victim Services Division of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, spoke about pathways into offending for girls. Her presentation addressed gendered violence, different types of abuse and their developmental impacts, protective reactions to abuse, the delinquency response system, and special considerations that need to be taken into account when dealing with girls in conflict with the law.

Dr. Cauffman of the University of California, Irvine, spoke about the Pathways to Desistance study that followed over 1,300 juvenile offenders, 14 percent of which were female, for seven years after their convictions. Her presentation addressed trajectories and risk factors for youth offending, as well as predictors for persistence female offending and pathways to desistance.

Here are some key takeaways from this event:

“There’s a cycle to violence. It’s not just the trauma or the event that happens during that abuse, but it’s the pathway that leads to the risk for potential violent behavior, increased potential for criminal behavior, and, unfortunately, increased risk for re-victimization. What we really want to focus on is how we address the abuse in children, how we try to intervene and get young people to safe places, and how we treat that trauma so that we don’t end up with this cycle.” – Gena Castro-Rodriguez

“Girls follow different pathways. While they exhibit similar pathways to males, that level of severity is different between males and females. There are several risk factors that predict this persistent offending pattern. The psychological components of mental health, that ability to think long term. The rates of trauma and victimization are key in keeping them engaged—this is something that definitely needs to be addressed—and, ultimately, the susceptibility and influence of these interpersonal relationships. Girls are relational, and these relationships have a big effect on their behavior.” – Elizabeth Cauffman

A Q&A session followed the presentations. During this session, audience members asked about topics including global responses, bullying, the need for changes in societal views, and the importance to reconsider current punitive measures for youth offenders. On the latter issue, both panelists stressed the need to improve treatment for justice-involved girls:

“We need to improve treatment options for young people so that they build safety and learn how to read warning signs and red flags and be able to take care of themselves and have other options other than running, so if the treatment and the options were better, then young people wouldn’t have to run away from them, and instead we focus on how young people fail treatment rather than how the treatment is failing young people.” – Gena Castro-Rodriguez

“Most of the time people just [think], “she’s run,” but not why she’s run. It’s always her fault, or the kid’s fault…when we as the adults just haven’t done a good job at figuring out how to solve the problem. So it’s not whether you hold a kid accountable, it’s how, and we need to change the how.” – Elizabeth Cauffman

If you missed this event, you can watch the recording here.