The Oakland-based National Council on Crime and Delinquency said Thursday it is opening a new research center in Jacksonville, Fla., that will focus on treatment of young females, described as the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice population in America. The National Center for Girls and Young Women will be directed by Lawanda Ravoira, president of PACE Center for Girls, a Florida not-for-profit that focuses on young females at risk of delinquency. The NCCD said the new center will be funded by a $500,000 start-up grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.
NCCD president Barry Krisberg said the center will focus on research, assessment services, staff training and program evaluations. “What is often said is girls' programs are actually boys' programs painted pink,” said Krisberg. “This approach by and large doesn't work. There needs to be a gender-responsive focus.” He said the majority of girls in state care have been sexually abused or neglected, are diagnosed with mental health problems, and have experienced family violence. Krisberg said the juvenile justice system is too quick to incarcerate them rather than base treatment on health services, guidance and life skills coaching. Problems mount when girls rack up additional charges inside the juvenile justice system when their emotional needs go unaddressed, he said.