Complicated Lives: Girls, Parents, Drugs, and Juvenile Justice.
Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies.
x. 255 p.
This book discusses the findings of a study involving 65 drug-using girls in the juvenile justice system who grew up in families characterized by parental drug use, violence, and child maltreatment. The study focused on the girls’ relationships with parents who failed to live up to idealized parenting norms and examined how these relationships changed over time and ultimately contributed to the girls’ future drug use and involvement in the justice system. In addition, data is presented from focus groups with 19 drug-involved Latina girls and 8 clinicians who work with them. Following an introduction, Chapter 1 presents girls’ early childhood memories with parents their experiences with parental drug use. Chapter 2 focuses on girls’ early childhood and adolescent experiences growing up with mothers who have been repeatedly victimized and/or have substance use problems. The development of the girls into “little helpers” is described. Chapter 3 highlights girls’ complicated relationships with either largely uninvolved or abusive biological fathers. Exposure to family violence is discussed in Chapter 4, as well as its impact on teen dating violence, delinquency, drug use, unprotected sex, and prostitution. Chapters 5 and 6 chronicle how girls’ relationships with parents influence their decisions to run away and use drugs, and parents’ attempts to intervene on behalf of drug-using daughters. Chapter 7 discusses how the juvenile justice system responds to girls and their parents and how these responses in turn shape girls’ treatment experiences once remanded to an out-of-home placement. The final chapter presents a detailed look at system-involved girls’ fears, hopes, and dreams, and discusses the importance of looking beyond the individual toward programmatic, systemic, and policy solutions. It recommends the development of culturally tailored, gender-specific prevention and intervention programs, as well as coordinated collaborations across various youth and adult agencies and systems. Numerous references.
adolescents; juvenile delinquency; risk factors; substance abusing parents; parent child relationships; substance abuse; family violence; dating; child welfare reform; residential care institutions; cultural competency; interagency collaboration