Risks, Outcomes, and Evidence-Based Interventions for Girls in the US Juvenile Justice System

Leslie D. Leve, Patricia Chamberlain, Hyoun K. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


The proportion of the juvenile justice population that comprises females is increasing, yet few evidence-based models have been evaluated and implemented with girls in the juvenile justice system. Although much is known about the risk and protective factors for girls who participate in serious delinquency, significant gaps in the research base hamper the development and implementation of theoretically based intervention approaches. In this review, we first summarize the extant empirical work about the predictors and sequelae of juvenile justice involvement for girls. Identified risk and protective factors that correspond to girls’ involvement in the juvenile justice system have been shown to largely parallel those of boys, although exposure rates and magnitudes of association sometimes differ by sex. Second, we summarize findings from empirically validated, evidence-based interventions for juvenile justice-involved youths that have been tested with girls. The interventions include Functional Family Therapy, Multisystemic Therapy, Multidimensional Family Therapy, and Treatment Foster Care Oregon (formerly known as Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care). We conclude that existing evidence-based practices appear to be effective for girls. However, few studies have been sufficiently designed to permit conclusions about whether sex-specific interventions would yield any better outcomes for girls than would interventions that already exist for both sexes and that have a strong base of evidence to support them. Third, we propose recommendations for feasible, cost-efficient next steps to advance the research and intervention agendas for this under-researched and underserved population of highly vulnerable youths.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-279
Number of pages28
JournalClinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Sept 14

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this work was provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and by Grants R01 DA024672 (PI: Leve) and P50 DA035763 (PIs: Chamberlain and Fisher) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, US PHS. Chamberlain is the developer of TFCO and a partner in TFC Consultants, Inc., which disseminates TFCO. Chamberlain and Leve received an honorarium from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for the writing of portions of this review.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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