Australian Institute of Criminology

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Girls commit similar crimes to boys

Media Release

17 August 2000

The Australian Institute of Criminology has today released a report which shows that although boys commit crime at a rate five times that of girls, the crimes that girls commit are similar. The report, Gender And Official Statistics: The Juvenile Justice System In Queensland, 1998-99 was written by Dr Emma Ogilvie, Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Institute, Mark Lynch, Principal Researcher at the CJC and Sue Bell, Principal Program Development Officer at DFYCC. In releasing the report AIC Director Dr Adam Graycar said that although the data were gathered in Queensland, he thought the pattern would apply Australia wide.

Dr Graycar noted "there is little evidence that female crime is significantly different from male crime. This challenges the views of many who think that girls do crime differently, and that girls who do crime are treated differently from boys".

  • The data examined in this paper are derived from the Queensland Police Service and the Queensland Families, Youth and Community Care Department. Consistent with previous research, the ratio of crimes committed by young males and young females respectively was approximately 5:1.
  • Female and male juvenile offenders appear to be being cautioned (proportionately) by police at similar rates.
  • When police decide to charge a juvenile with an offence, males are marginally more likely than females to be charged for property offences, and females slightly more likely than males to be charged for offences against the person.
  • This trend continues with respect to charges heard in court. Females are slightly more likely than males to have charges against the person heard in court, while males are slightly more likely than females to have charges against property heard in court.
  • In terms of final outcomes, females are more likely to receive an un-supervised order than males, while males are slightly more likely to receive a supervised order. 6% of girls and 8% of boys were sentenced to detention.

In the report the authors note that one of the reasons for an increase in females appearing before Queensland Courts could be because of policy decisions rather than criminal activity. The introduction of the Juvenile Justice Act 1992 in Queensland changed the focus of responding to juvenile crime from a "welfare" model to a "justice" model.