Young and At Risk: Canada’s First Nation Women and California’s Latinas

This guest post is published during the American Society of Criminology conference in Philadelphia, occurring November 15-18. #ASCPhilly

By Jerry Flores, author of Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance, and Wraparound Incarceration

Tamara Lynn Chipman, missing since 2005.

Across Canada there has been tens of thousands of missing first nations women like Tamara Lynn Chipman. A similar pattern has occurred near American reservations as well as places like Juarez, Mexico where scores of women as young as 14 years old have been kidnapped, raped, murdered and never returned to their families. Most of these women have received little media coverage, scant support from criminal justice institutions and are seldom found alive, if at all.

As an incoming faculty member in the sociology department at the University of Toronto, a new resident to Canada, and a Chicano feminist I was stunned by these stories. During the last ten years, there have been an increase in documentaries on this issue, scores of independent efforts to find these people, but there has been little government support to successfully find these women or to curtail these disappearances. As I began to read about this issue I was baffled by how similar the stories of these youth compare to the experiences of justice involved Latinas that I interviewed in Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance and Wraparound Incarceration. In this book, I address the multiple home factors that contribute to Latinas in Southern California ending up behind bars and the challenges they face when attempting to return to a “normal life.” I interviewed over 30 young women and included twenty more via group interviews or ethnographic fieldwork.

Identical Challenges

Despite the roughly 4,048 kilometers between my field site in Southern California and the greater Toronto Area, young at risk Latinas and First Nations women experience almost identical challenges when attempting to survive to adulthood. They must negotiate abuse in the home, a lack of social services (even in Canada), the ever-present threat of sexual violence, and the looming possibility of ending up behind bars. Additionally, schools, community centers and even well intentioned adults cannot seem to provide them the tools they need to avoid victimization and to be successful. This—and what seems to be a lack of interest or just plain oversight from various institutions—pushes young women to run away, hitchhike large distances, and participate in other high-risk behavior. As a result, thousands of young native women like Tamara eventually disappear or end up murdered on the side of rural roads across North America.

As an academic, feminist and victim of childhood sexual assault, I hope that we as a society can find a way to stop the continued attack on women and more broadly on all marginalized and oppressed groups. Additionally, I hope we can find these First Nations women and help prevent their disappearance in the first place. It is high time that we make marginalized young women the focal point of our efforts.

Moving forward there are a few simply things caring individuals and policy makers can do to help these young women:

  • First, introduce safe space where youth can report victimization without the fear of retribution.
  • Second, encourage schools and community centers to provide mental health services to anyone in need and free of charge.
  • And finally, make sure that all marginalized people including First Nations women and Latinas have access to quality K-12 education, three meals a day, clean water and a safe place to sleep.

Taken together, this will help address the main issues that encourage young women to leave their homes in the first place.

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Attend Jerry’s author meets critics session on Friday, November 17, 8:00 to 9:20am, Marriott, Room 406, 4th Floor as well as his other sessions. And learn more about the book from Jerry.  


Jerry Flores is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto.


ASC Conference 2017: Author Meets Critics Sessions

This year’s American Society of Criminology conference in Philadelphia from November 15 – 18 includes exciting author meets critics sessions, highlighting titles that serve as a catalyst for change. Get 40% off of these titles by visiting Booth #27 and picking up an order form! #ASCPhilly

Cross-National Public Opinion about Homosexuality: Examining Attitudes across the Globe by Amy Adamczyk

Wed, Nov 15, 9:30 to 10:50am, Marriott, Room 402, 4th Floor.

Attend Amy’s other sessions and read her thoughts on why some countries disapprove of homosexuality.

LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence:Lessons for Policy, Practice, and Research by Adam Messinger

Wed, Nov 15, 11:00am to 12:20pm, Marriott, Room 404, 4th Floor.

Attend Adam’s other sessions and read an interview about how abuse in LGBTQ relationships are harder to detect.

Methamphetamine: A Love Story by Rashi K. Shukla

Thu, Nov 16, 9:30 to 10:50am, Marriott, Room 411, 4th Floor

See the video about the book and listen to Rashi as she discusses how her research on this topic began. And learn more about the book and Rashi’s current research.

Abusive Endings: Separation and Divorce Violence against Women by Walter DeKeseredy, Molly Dragiewicz, Martin D. Schwartz 

Fri, Nov 17, 8:00 to 9:20am, Marriott, Room 305, 3rd Floor

Attend other sessions forWalterMolly, and Martin. And read about their thoughts on the visibility of violence against women and image-based sexual abuse.

Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance, and Wraparound Incarceration by Jerry Flores

Fri, Nov 17, 8:00 to 9:20am, Marriott, Room 406, 4th Floor

Attend Jerry’s other sessions. And read Jerry’s comments on why he felt it imperative to write the book.

Jacked Up and Unjust: Pacific Islander Teens Confront Violent Legacies by Katherine Irwin , Karen Umemoto

Fri, Nov 17, 2:00 to 3:20pm, Marriott, Room 502, 5th Floor.

Attend Katy’s other sessions. And read Katy and Karen’s thoughts on the book as well as the importance of combatting cultures of youth violence.


At ASC, Save 40% on Criminology Titles

If you’re attending American Society of Criminology conference in Philadelphia from November 15 – 18, make sure to visit UC Press at booth #27 for a 40% discount. Our titles act as a catalyst for change, inspiring students, scholars, and practitioners alike to think critically, produce and consume research responsibly, and advocate for social justice.

See our recent offerings in Criminology, with books useful for your research as well as for course adoptions. See you at #ASCPhilly!


How Donald Trump’s “Locker-Room Talk” Perpetuates Sexual Violence Against Women

By Jerry Flores, author of Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance, and Wraparound Incarceration

This guest post is published in advance of the American Society of Criminology conference in New Orleans. Check back every week for new posts through the end of the conference on November 19th. #ASC2016 #Election2016

Recently, a video of presidential candidate Donald Trump making sexist, lewd, and offensive comments about women flooded media coverage. In the video, Trump can be heard saying, “I just start kissing them [women]. Just kiss—I don’t even wait. And when you are a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Whatever you want. Grab them by the pussy. Whatever you want.” A reporter laughed aloud at these statements.

“Locker-Room Talk”

After the release of this video a slew of women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Mr. Trump. Even more problematic is that videos and quotes have also emerged. With this new information the resounding theme of the hyper-sexualization of women, the use of sexist language and the objectification of women’s bodies are exceedingly clear. In response, Trump apologized and referred to this type of language as “locker-room talk.” He also affirmed that he holds the utmost respect for women. Despite these statements, Mr. Trump’s discussion of women reflects the larger hyper-sexualization of women in a patriarchal society that largely ignores this type of sexual misconduct. There is no place where this is more painfully apparent than in the narratives of marginalized young women (especially women of color) featured in my book Caught Up.

Flores.CaughtUp

Sexual Abuse at the Hands of Those We Trust

In this book, I address how the schools and detention centers in Southern California are collectively punishing young Latina girls in new and dynamic ways. For this project, I interviewed over 30 young women and included twenty more via group interviews or ethnographic fieldwork. The ubiquitous sexual abuse of young women was the largest and most pervasive theme I heard during my two years of research. Interview after interview, I heard young women recount instances of this type of abuse at the hands of immediate and distant family, neighbors, students at school, current and ex-romantic partners, institutional actors, priests, human traffickers or by complete strangers.

Another major theme in my research was the relative impunity with which these men continually victimized the young people in my study. From stories of gang sexual assault at the hands of boys told by “Feliz” or stories of being molested by multiple neighbors over the course of various years like “Ray,” sexual violence was ubiquitous in the lives of young women.

Consequences

Additionally, while local, state and federal governments always seemed to have the resources to punish young women, they often lacked the ability to provide resources to help youth cope with their prior and current sexual assault. As a person who is concerned with the well being of these young women, my wife, mother, cousins, and all women, I wonder how Trump’s type of “locker-room talk” emboldens and perpetuates the ongoing assault and abuse of young women, and rape culture as a whole. I also wonder what message it sends to men of all ages when they hear how Mr. Trump has allegedly victimized so many women and gotten away with it. This is even more shocking since Donald Trump is a presidential candidate that has the support of large segments of the U.S. population.

As an academic, feminist and victim of childhood sexual assault, I hope that we as a society can find a way to stop the continued attack on women and more broadly on all marginalized and oppressed groups. I also hope that we come to our senses and realize that a person who preys on the weak and exploits their privilege to do so is not someone we want as our president.


Flores.author.photo-croppedJerry Flores is a Ford Foundation Fellow, University of California President’s Postdoc, and Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice in the Social Work and Criminal Justice Program at the University of Washington, Tacoma.


Caught Up

By Jerry Flores, author of Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance, and Wraparound Incarceration

This guest post is published in advance of the American Sociological Association conference in Seattle. Check back every week for new posts through the end of the conference on August 23rd.

As I was writing my book Caught Up, the internet was flooded with a video of Ben Fields, a white school resource officer with the Richland County Sheriffs in South Carolina, flipping a black girl out of her desk and throwing her against the wall of her tenth grade classroom. Ben Fields, who is roughly twice the size of this young woman, then proceeds to pin her on the ground while simultaneous uttering, “give me your hands.” According to an article by the New York Times, Fields had been previously sued for violating the rights of students and had been accused of disproportionately targeting Black students, using sexist and unprofessional language and excessive force. Due to various cell phone recordings, this officer was eventually fired. However, this incident is not atypical nor are the increasing ties between penal and educational institutions in the U.S.

In my book, I address how the coming together of schools and detention centers in southern California is punishing young Latina girls in new and dynamic ways. This entailed conducting fieldwork at “Legacy” community school and “El Valle” juvenile detention center. During the last seven years, Legacy school officials gave El Valle juvenile detention center unfettered access to their students in exchange for financial resources. In return for this economic support, Legacy allowed El Valle to place a probation officer inside one classroom called the “Recuperation Program” that was intended to help youth with “drug and other behavioral issues.” This probation officer conducted investigations, questioned students, drug tested young people, and placed them directly under arrest as other youth attempted to take their math, science and English lessons. In the eyes of school and detention center administrators, this institutional partnership was supposed to help keep at risk youth away from secure detention. However, my research reveals these well-intentioned services have the opposite effect. As Diana, one of my participants said “I don’t like Legacy because…I’m practically busted [incarcerated] right here!” For the youth in my study, they see little difference between attending Legacy and their time behind bars. While scholars have been discussing the “school-to-prison pipeline” since the 1990’s, this phenomenon is one that is still affecting young people, especially youth of color like the girl thrown from her desk in South Carolina or Diana who often feel caught up between school and a life behind bars.


Jerry Flores is a Ford Foundation Fellow, University of California President’s Postdoc, and Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice in the Social Work and Criminal Justice Program at the University of Washington, Tacoma.