Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2006, $297,888)
Researchers and practitioners have recognized that girls in the justice system experience disproportionately high rates of violence exposure'such as child maltreatment, rape, and dating violence'prior to their delinquent or criminal offending. Entanglement of violence throughout these girls' lives is likely manifest as 'poly-victimization''simultaneously experiencing multiple types of violence exposure. Community- and systems-based interventions are often ill-equipped to address such complex constellations of abuse. There is a lack of research on how poly-victimization contributes to girls' crime, adjustment in communities before and after interventions, and risk for transition from minor offenses to more serious or chronic offending. For systemic interventions to be effective, further information is needed regarding girls' histories of violence exposure, use of community services, and relationship of victimization and service use to girls' involvement in illegal activity.
The proposed study will address these gaps via several aims: 1) we will examine range, diversity, and co-occurrence of different types of violence over the course of these girls' lives; 2) we will examine independent, relative, and cumulative trajectories of risk for different types of victimization over the lifespan; 3) for each type of violence exposure, we will examine ecological factors that may inform mechanisms of risk or protective factors that mitigate impact of violence; and 4) we will examine relationship of different patterns of victimization and service use to severity and chronicity of offending.
The study incorporates combined quantitative-qualitative interviews with 120 girls adjudicated delinquent, as well as paper-and-pencil surveys administered to a primary caregiver for each girl. Interview and survey data on family history, violence-exposure, and delinquent or criminal history will be supplemented with archival records documenting each girl's involvement with the justice system, financial assistance, child welfare, educational programs, and health services. Timelines showing sequence and co-occurrence of events will be mapped using the Life History Calendar method, and analyses will include qualitative and quantitative approaches guided by grounded-theoretical, ecological, and event-history models.