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This chapter consists of a literature review of girls’ and young women’s crime and deviance from a long-term perspective. It shows how certain themes have dominated European discourses and realities of female juvenile delinquency across several centuries and up until the present day, and how these various threats and transgressions have been countered by recurrent strategies. In assessing sexual misconduct, theft and vagrancy – three crime categories that were prevalent among prosecutions of young women – it identifies powerful and enduring narratives centering on concerns about girls’ sexuality and independence. Finally, in comparing responses to female juvenile crime and deviance across Western Europe since the eighteenth century, certain ‘solutions’ have proven dominant and very enduring: institutional confinement of criminal and problem girls on the one hand, and the pathologisation of female (juvenile) crime on the other.
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