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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76109 Find in a Library
Title: Incidence of Female Crime and Delinquency - A Comparison of Official and Self-report Statistics
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 15
Annotation: Official U.S. arrest statistics on females from 1966 to 1976 are analyzed, followed by a discusion of female involvement in violent crime and comparisons between official crime rates and self-reported female delinquencies.
Abstract: According to the Uniform Crime Reports, the female contribution to arrest totals rose from 12 percent in 1966 to 16 percent in 1976. During this period, serious property crime by females increased from 15 percent to 22 percent, while female violent crime rose only from 9 to 10 percent. Historically, the probability of arrested females being charged with prostitution, disorderly conduct, drunkenness, or curfew and loitering violations has decreased, but arrests for larceny-theft, fraud, narcotics, and driving under the influence are up. Media publicity stating that female crime is rising much more rapidly than male crime is misleading because this trend is based on percentage differences calculated from baseline years when female arrests were very low and ignores absolute figures. For example, the male increase in arson arrests between 1966 and 1976 was 53 percent and the female increase was 158 percent, but the number of male arrests increased from 4,790 to 7,343 while female arrests rose from 370 to 955. Statistics on female crime collected from individual States confirm these national patterns. Despite assertions that females are increasingly involved in violent crime, the Uniform Crime Reports show that female contributions to arrests for violent crimes has remained steady at 10 percent since 1969. Studies have reported that homicides by females are more likely to occur in the home and involve intimates that those committed by males. This largely reflects women's restricted range of social involvements and greater dependence on family relationships. Several self-report studies on female delinquencies are summarized which reveal smaller gender differentials than the official data, but follow similar patterns. Officials in the criminal justice system appear to underreport female property offenses more than serious violent offenses and are likely to sexualize female offenses inappropriately from time to time. Evidence indicates that females are playing more active roles in criminal and delinquent activities than they did in earlier decades. Since more women work outside the home and must support themselves, both the opportunity and motivation for crime have increased. Sexual differentiation in delinquency rates is decreasing more rapidly among teenagers and young single adults than among women and men and presages a similar convergence in adult crime rates. When this occurs, women will probably still be overrepresented in less aggressive criminal behaviors. Over 40 footnotes are included.
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