This International Day of the Girl we’re grappling with distressing developments in our country: two-year-olds in immigration court; teenagers reflecting on witnessing “clear disregard for women’s safety at the highest levels of the government”; and a federal judge declaring the Indian Child Welfare Act unconstitutional. On a day “aiming to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights” we are keeping our focus and energy on the work happening across the country to advance justice for girls.
We’re observing this year’s Day of the Girl by sharing a list of 11 critical resources from the field that offer new research on girls’ experiences with systems and provide strategies and guidance to implement local reforms. The majority of these resources center girls’ experiences and expertise.
The resources are all available in the just-launched National Girls Initiative resource hub, offering advocates and systems actors a centralized space to find research and toolkits focused on girls and the juvenile justice system.
The resource hub includes interviews with leaders of innovative programs advancing reforms for girls in the juvenile justice system, with their reflections on key lessons for the field.
Day of the Girl: 11 Resources to Advance Justice for Girls
Rebecca Epstein, Jamilia Blake, and Thalia Gonzalez
“This groundbreaking study by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality provides—for the first time— data showing that adults view Black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers, especially in the age range of 5–14 … Given established discrepancies in law enforcement and juvenile court practices that disproportionately affect Black girls, the perception of Black girls as less innocent and more adult-like may contribute to more punitive exercise of discretion by those in positions of authority, greater use of force, and harsher penalties.”
Subini Ancy Annamma
“Linking powerful first-person narratives with structural analysis, The Pedagogy of Pathologization explores the construction of criminal identities in schools via the intersections of race, disability, and gender amid the prevalence of targeted mass incarceration. Focusing uniquely on the pathologization of female students of color, whose voices are frequently engulfed by labels of deviance and disability, a distinct and underrepresented experience of the school-to-prison pipeline is detailed through original qualitative methods rooted in authentic narratives. The book’s DisCrit framework, grounded in interdisciplinary research, draws on scholarship from critical race theory, disability studies, education, women’s and girl’s studies, legal studies, and more.”
“An awareness of gender can help explain how and why girls behave in different ways and what, if any, misperceptions of girls’ behavior—rooted in race and/or gender biases—may exist among system actors or within girls’ families. It also empowers stakeholders to analyze how policies and practices may be negatively or differently impacting girls and to address disparities that are missed when systems assessment and reform do not include a targeted gender lens. This guide, which supplements Vera’s Toolkit for Status Offense System Reform, aims to help system leaders and staff do just that.”
Girls for Gender Equity
“This report is the result of a participatory action research project (PAR) that was done in collaboration with girls, transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) youth of color in all five boroughs of New York City. We held listening sessions with over 100 participants ages 9 – 24 from various racial and ethnic backgrounds. The report documents how girls and TGNC youth of color are pushed out of school, uplifts their visions for the schools that they want and deserve and has policy and practice recommendations that school stakeholders can partake in to create schools that are holistic, safe and affirming for girls and TGNC youth of color.”
Conducting Youth Participatory Action Research Through a Healing-Informed Approach with System-Involved Latinas
Sara Haskie-Mendoza, Laura Tinajero, Alma Cervantes, Jazzlyn Rodriguez, and Josephine V. Serrata
“In 2015, the National Compadres Network (NCN), with over 30 years of work embedded in the Chicano/Latino and Indigenous communities in California, developed a project to respond to the disparities in the juvenile justice system faced by Latina girls. Through this project, the NCN used a healing-informed curriculum (Xinachtli) and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) to engage Latina system-involved girls as equal partners to inform detention alternatives and reform. This paper will describe these efforts, provide insights from the YPAR facilitators and youth researchers, and provide recommendations for other community-based facilitators who are considering utilizing YPAR through a healing-informed approach within their own work with Latina girls.”
National Women’s Law Center
Let Her Learn: Stopping School Pushout is a series of reports that centers the experiences of the following groups of girls, examining the educational barriers they face and offering recommendations to address them: Girls of Color, Girls Who Are Pregnant or Parenting, Girls with Disabilities, Girls in Foster Care, Girls Who Are Homeless, Girls Who Have Suffered Harassment or Sexual Violence, Girls Involved in the Juvenile Justice System, and LGBTQ Girls.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Questioning, and/or Gender Nonconforming and Transgender Girls and Boys in the California Juvenile Justice System: A Practice Guide
Angela Irvine, Shannan Wilber, and Aisha Canfield
“Impact Justice and the National Center for Lesbian Rights developed this practice guide to support California probation departments in meeting their obligation to promote the safety and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning, and/or gender nonconforming and transgender (LGBQ/GNCT) youth in their care and custody.The guide summarizes research showing that LGBQ/GNCT youth are significantly overrepresented in the state’s juvenile justice system, and are at higher risk than their peers for a host of negative outcomes. Based on these findings and emerging legal and professional standards, the guide recommends policies and procedures to prohibit discrimination, prevent harm, and promote fair and equitable treatment of LGBQ/GNCT youth in the state’s juvenile justice system.”
Unintended Consequences: Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence Mandatory and Pro-Arrest Policies and Practices on Girls and Young Women
Francine T. Sherman
“Unintended Consequences arose from the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) roundtable discussion that was attended by advocates representing the violence against women and juvenile justice reform for girls communities. This report provides background information about the unintended consequences and impact of mandatory and pro-arrest domestic violence policies on girls, young women and women, as well as the disproportionate impact on communities of color, and summarizes the discussions for future policy and practice reform.”
OJJDP’s National Girls Initiative
“On September 24, 2018, from 2‒3:30 p.m. ET, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), in collaboration with OJJDP’s National Girls Initiative, presented ‘Understanding Girls and the Juvenile Justice System – A Review of Recent National Data.’ In this webinar, participants learned about available data resources relating to victimization of and offending by girls, and the juvenile justice system’s response to law-violating behavior involving girls. The presenters demonstrated information available from online data analysis and dissemination tools, with examples of the practical application and use of this information for policy and practice.”
Monique W. Morris, Rebecca Epstein, and Aishatu Yusuf
“This toolkit is based on first-of-their-kind focus groups and interviews conducted by the Center on Poverty and the National Black Women’s Justice Institute with school resource officers (SROs) and girls of color. It offers strategies and guidance to improve interactions between school-based police and girls of color and decrease the disproportionate use of school discipline with girls of color. The report was focused on the South, an area often overlooked in related research.”
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
“Girl-centered protective asset programs have been shown to help girls in different parts of their lives. These include having greater confidence, lower chances of experiencing sexual assault, better school performance, more health knowledge, and enhanced life planning skills. The webinar will describe how the protective assets approach is being adapted for girls in Indian Country, and how you can join an initiative to help you build such a program in your own community.”