Gender and Theories of Delinquency

Stacy De Coster, Karen Heimer and Samantha R. Cumley

in The Oxford Handbook of Criminological Theory

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199747238
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Gender and Theories of Delinquency

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Females are less likely than males to violate the law, a statement that has become a criminological truism and might help explain why the major theoretical paradigms in criminology tend to focus more on male offending than on female delinquency. Although females are less likely to engage in illegal behavior, they do so nonetheless. This article looks at the major criminological paradigms—control, strain, and learning—and the extent to which they have addressed female delinquency as well as the gender gap in delinquency. While it is true that the most prominent theories in each paradigm pay little attention to gender, some have suggested that these theories can explain delinquency in both males and females. In other words, the theories are believed to be gender-neutral. Indeed, there is empirical evidence to support the argument that the major social-psychological processes and variables in these theories—social bonds, self-control, strain, and learning—influence male and female delinquency.

Keywords: female delinquency; criminology; male delinquency; gender gap; social bonds; self-control; strain; learning; gender

Article.  8104 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Theories of Crime ; Corporate Crime

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