The attitudes of girls toward the police: differences by race

Yolander G. Hurst (Department of Criminal Justice, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA)
M. Joan McDermott (Center for the Study of Crime, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA)
Deborah L. Thomas (Rehabilitation Institute, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Publication date: 1 December 2005



Recent research suggests that there is not widespread support for the police among juveniles. Unfortunately, this research typically involves either examining the attitudes of boys toward the criminal justice system, or includes gender as one of many factors that explains attitudes. The present study, using survey responses from 431 females, examines the differences in the attitudes and experiences of girls as related to the police.


Data for this study were collected using self‐administered surveys distributed to 9th through 12th grade public high school students in the greater Cincinnati (Ohio) area.


The findings suggest that overall attitudes of black and white girls toward the police are significantly different from one another. Moreover, when a regression equation was estimated, race continued to be a significant predictor of less positive attitudes. However, seeing and hearing about police misconduct aimed at a third party (vicarious experiences of misconduct) was a stronger predictor of girls' attitudes toward the police.

Research limitations/implications

This study was limited to juveniles residing in and around a metropolitan area. Future research should explore the experiences of teenagers in rural areas with the police, and how these experiences may impact on their attitudes toward law enforcement.


Highlights the different attitudes of black and white girls towards the police.



Hurst, Y., McDermott, M. and Thomas, D. (2005), "The attitudes of girls toward the police: differences by race", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 578-593.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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