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Female Offenders: Patterns and Explanations

Evidence clearly illustrates that girls and women in the United States commit considerably less crime than boys and men, particularly less violent crime. However, media reports and official crime statistics have suggested that girls and women are catching up to their male counterparts, engaging in more illegal activity than ever, particularly more violent activity. The goal of this entry is to review how (and if) the nature of female offending has changed over time (relative to male offending), describe and evaluate two hypotheses put forth to explain the seemingly narrowing of the gender crime gap—the behavioral change hypothesis and the policy change hypothesis—and lastly, to examine the nature of female-perpetrated crime over the life span of a typical female offender in comparison to a ...

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