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Let Girls Be Girls
NIC News & Updates


Let Girls Be GirlsThis research report from the Urban Institute, Let Girls Be Girls, describes “how coercive sexual environments affect girls who live in disadvantaged communities and what we can do about it.”  As noted in the report, there is a link between girls’ experiences with sexual and physical abuse in coersive sexual environments and their involvement in the criminal justice system, especially girls of color. 

Highlights from the report include:

  • Some communities develop a pervasive Coercive Sexual Environment (CSE) in which harassment, domestic violence, and sexual exploitation of women and even very young girls become part of everyday life (Popkin, Acs, and Smith 2010; Popkin, Leventhal, and Weismann 2010; Popkin and McDaniel 2013; Popkin et al., forthcoming).
  • Interim data from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration revealed that girls from families who had received special assistance and incentives to move to a low-poverty neighborhood fared unexpectedly better than boys from these families in terms of mental health and engagement in risky behavior (Briggs, Popkin, and Goering 2010; Popkin, Leventhal et al. 2010).
  • Our research suggests that living in a community with a high level of CSE contributes to poor outcomes for girls. There is ample evidence that living in neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage—racially segregated, high-poverty, and high-crime communities with low levels of collective efficacy—harms children’s life chances. Children growing up in these neighborhoods experience developmental delays, suffer serious physical and mental health problems, and are at greater risk for delinquency, early sexual initiation, and teen parenthood (Popkin, Leventhal, and Weismann 2010).

Access the full report


This announcement is available at NIC’s Gender-Responsive News for Women and Girls.  Feel free to forward to friends and colleagues.  Subscribe to the newsletter at

For additional resources on Justice-Involved Women go to NIC’s Women Offenders.

Posted Tue, Mar 15 2016 9:35 AM by Susan Powell


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