You go, girls!

By Allison Caldwell

Statistics from the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) report a steady growth in the number of girls being arrested, detained and placed on probation, running counter to trends for boys. In 2000, girls accounted for 28 percent of all juvenile arrests, up from 19 percent in 1990. Clemson’s Youth Learning Institute and DJJ are joining forces to provide hope for these girls through the new Center for Girls Advocacy.

“The creation of this center supports our goal of developing innovative programs for diverse populations,” said Jorge Calzadilla, institute director. “The natural next step is to develop initiatives that focus on boys, which are already being discussed.”

The center, slated to start in spring 2007, will connect innovative programming, advocacy, policy analysis, research and evaluation on behalf of girls. Programs and research will focus on five core strategies: health, nutrition and wellness; gender identity; economic development; collaborative learning; and relationships. It will serve as a resource and research hub to address issues such as teen pregnancy, high school dropout rates and poor self-esteem.

“We know that what works with boys doesn’t necessarily work with girls,” said Susan Alford, who will lead the new center. “We want to focus on girls earlier in life, hopefully preventing them from ever becoming involved in the juvenile justice system.”

For more information: Youth Learning Institute 864-878-1041,