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The Gendering of Violent Delinquency

This article addresses two issues that have received little attention in empirical research-the mechanisms explaining variation in violent delinquency within gender and variation in levels of violence across gender, or the gender gap. Toward these ends, the article synthesizes arguments from differential association theory, feminist theory, and gender studies. The outcome is a theoretical model of gender and violent delinquency that focuses on the interplay between structural positions and cultural processes. The theoretical model includes a core construct of differential association theory-the learning of definitions favorable to violence-as well as arguments about cultural definitions or meanings of gender and gender differences in the role of familial controls and peer influence, which are derived from feminist theory and gender studies. It then examines how these cultural processes are conditioned by structural positions. One of the key arguments is that the violent delinquency of females is controlled through rather subtle, indirect mechanisms, while the violence of males is controlled in more direct, overt ways. The results of the empirical analysis support the the-oretical arguments, contribute to the limited understanding of the variation in violent offending among females, and explain the sources of the gender gap in violent delinquency. The article thereby allows greater understanding of the broader phenomenon of juvenile violence.