The juvenile court in Davidson County is spearheading an effort to reduce the number of girls and gender-nonconforming young people who end up behind bars.
The court is emphasizing a trauma-informed approach, as part of the Initiative to End Girls’ Incarceration by the Vera Institute of Justice, which aims to meet its goal nationwide within the next decade.
Kathryn Sinback is a juvenile court administrator with the county who says girls tend to be pulled into criminal activity perpetrated by boys, or are sexually exploited by gangs.
According to the Vera Institute, girls make up 55% of children nationwide who are taken to court specifically for running away. Many girls run away from home to escape sexual abuse and unstable home life.
She adds that nationwide, more than 80% of girls in the juvenile justice system have been sexually or physically abused.
Picture: Recent reforms have shrunk the annual number of girls’ detentions to less than 46,000 nationwide from nearly 100,000 in the early 2000s, according to the Vera Institute for Justice. (Adobe Stock)