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Criers, Liars, and Manipulators: Probation Officers’ View Girls

This study examines the perceptions of girls held by juvenile probation officers, psychologists, and others involved in juvenile court decision making. Through qualitative analysis of girls’ probation case files and in depth interviews with juvenile probation officers, we discuss the social construction of gender, race, culture, and class. Our findings suggest that in an environment marked by scarce resources, gender and racial/ethnic stereotypes leave girls few options for treatment and services in the juvenile court. Some probation officers expressed distaste for working with girls and had little understanding of culturally or gender-specific programming. Others were frustrated by the lack of programming options for girls in the state. Based on our findings, we question whether the current ideology or structure of juvenile probation can nurture a holistic approach to justice for girls.