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Copyright (c) 1998 Hastings College of the Law 
Hastings Women's Law Journal

ARTICLE: Female Juvenile Delinquency: Sexual Solutions, Gender Bias, and Juvenile Justice

Winter, 1998

9 Hastings Women's L.J. 1


Laurie Schaffner *


The beginning of delinquency in girls is usually an impulse to get amusement, adventure, pretty clothes, favorable notice, distinction, freedom in the larger world which presents so many allurements and comparisons. The cases which I have examined (about three thousand) show that sexual passion does not play an important role, for the girls have usually become "wild" before the development of sexual desire, and their casual sexual relations do not usually awaken sexual feeling. Their sex is used as a condition for the realization of other wishes. It is their capital. 1

Maria Gutierrez, 2 a fifteen-year-old Chicana student, sat in a Northern California juvenile detention facility awaiting a disposition hearing on her case. She was charged with violating California Penal Code Section 288(a): "lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age." In this case, the victim was her younger brother. Maria Gutierrez had an idea of how she came to commit her crime. Her file included a letter she wrote while attending a court-ordered sexual offenders' class. In big, round, childlike handwriting, she described in detail how her father abducted her at age 11 from her mother's care. She retold her experience of his violent incestuous rape, relating that he sodomized her with foreign objects, and shared her sexually with numerous other adult male friends of his. Four years later, Gutierrez awaited disposition on her own sex offense case.

Seventeen-year-old African American Yolanda Robbins went to live with her father when her parents ...
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