University of Hawai'i
(808) 956-8856 Telephone
For Immediate Release
April 27, 1998
Contact: Meda Chesney-Lind, SSRI and Women's Studies 956-6313
Jennifer Koo, SSRI 956-7528
Hawai'i Girls Project Committee members listed at end
Hawai'i Girls Project Releases Report on Programming for Girls to Reduce Delinquency
A new report by the Hawai'i Girls Project, Girls at Risk: An Overview of Gender-Specific Programming Issues and Initiatives, highlights the importance of providing programs for girls because they make up 25% of the juvenile justice system. In Hawai'i, girls account for one in three of youth arrests, and arrests of girls are increasing. Thirty-four percent of all girls will be sexually or physically abused before they reach adulthood; over 60% of the girls in the juvenile justice system have been abused. Additionally, girls suffer from disproportionately higher levels of stress, depression, eating disorders, and suicide attempts than boys. Their self-esteem is also considerably lower than boys' as it tends to plummet during adolescent years.
An on-going collaborative effort, the Hawai'i Girls Project is sponsored by the Juvenile Justice State Advisory Council and supported by the state's Office of Youth Services through funding by a federal grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The new report, by the University of Hawai'i at Manoa Girls Project at the Social Science Research Institute, is under the direction of Meda Chesney-Lind, professor in the Department of Women's Studies.
Because the majority of programs that serve girls are co-ed, the specific needs of girls are either shortchanged or simply ignored, according to the report. For instance, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention cites 24 "potentially promising programs" for delinquent boys but only two for girls. The report explains that girls' program funding is a low priority because they are seen as less threatening to others on public properties. As a result, girls only receive 510% of funding for youth programs, despite the fact that they constitute 25% of the juvenile justice system. In particular, girls are at high risk for runaway and drug problems.
In Hawai'i, a survey of 28 providers showed that less than 46% had activities specifically oriented to girls. Most of these programs were recreational, not activities that address such issues as sexual victimization and dating violence. Many focus on one specific issue like pregnancy or drugs, to the exclusion of inter-relating factors that place girls at risk. Other studies show that at-risk youth have multiple risk factors that need to be addressed.
The report concludes that there aren't enough programs in Hawai'i to meet youths' needs-particularly girls' needs-and then outlines what constitutes good female-specific programming with local and national examples. Report copies are available in limited numbers from the UH Social Science Research Institute and the States Office of Youth Services and in the University's library system.
The HGP Steering Committee, representing a variety of agencies from all the state's counties, will continue its work with a broad focus on helping all girls and with activities such as workshops and an informational packet. The Committee strives to support and expand research, using it as a basis for decisions on developing and implementing policies. The next research of the Hawai'i Girls Project will examine gender and ethnicity issues as they relate to Hawai'i's at-risk youth.
Additional HGP Committee members who may be contacted for information
Edralyn McElroy, O'ahu, 733-9049
Sharon Agnew, Kaua'i, 241-6240
Susan Shirai, Maui, 579-8354
Judith Gregor, Kona, 329-7773
Denise Vasconcelles, Hilo, 959-5855 Ext. 27.