Parens Patriae Philosophy

Parens patriae philosophy is the United States juvenile justice cornerstone that requires the state to act in the child’s best interest as a surrogate parent. Parens patriae traditionally referred to the state’s sovereign and guardian role to persons under a legal disability. The principal evolution in America emerged as the early juvenile courts recognized the significance of the parent’s role in providing basic needs to the child. The courts started to intervene in cases where the parents failed to provide for their children, and this doctrine expanded to address risky criminal behaviors. The advancement ensured the establishment of rehabilitative programs for the youths at risk to raise productive citizens. In the progression, parens patriae philosophy requires the courts to act as substitute parents in the children’s wayward behavior.

Parens patriae has affected girls differently than boys basing on the treatment levels depicted. The juvenile girl offenders are more likely to disproportionately face status offense charges such as truancy and incorrigibility than boys. The rehabilitative efforts focused on controlling the boys’ criminal behavior while preventing the girls from sexual misconduct. This situation persistently continues in history, portraying more arrests and harsh treatment for girls under status offense. The mandatory arrests regarding domestic violence also affect the female juveniles who are more likely to fight with family members. At the same time, the boys portray a low impact on mandatory arrests for family violence due to their likelihood to ensue violence with strangers and friends. The differences in the offenses and mandatory detention persist in history, and various scholars’ explanations refer to the assault policies that govern the situations.

Female delinquency since the 1980s entails some changes that portray them as violent. Girls in the late 20th century faced runaway charges in the juvenile courts. Dating from 1996 to 2005, the girls’ arrests on assault increased, depicting females as violent. Most of these juvenile domestic assaults involving the adolescents against the parents and the arrests were more likely to occur in homes with other siblings who informed the police officers regarding the situation. The runaway charges and domestic assaults’ delinquency account for the girls’ numerous arrests, detention, and incarceration in history, contributing to the phenomenon of a ‘violent girl.’

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