By Jessie Domingo Salu, Vice President, The National Crittenton Foundation
Imagine being a child abused or neglected by someone you know, feeling unsafe in your own home, being betrayed by people who you should be able to trust. Where would you go? How would you cope with such traumatic experiences? For girls involved in the juvenile justice system, their options are very limited, and none of them would be seen as good choices from a middle class perspective. Girls typically turn their rage inward — they run away from home, are truant from schools, become defiant, or engage in self-harming behaviors. As a result, girls disproportionately end up in the juvenile justice system for status offenses—actions that would not be considered criminal if committed by adults—rather than for violent or person-to-person crimes.