In protection of ourselves: Black girls' perceptions of self-reported delinquent behaviors

Aalece O. Pugh-Lilly, Helen A. Neville, Karen L. Poulin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to explore Black adolescent girls' perceptions of self-reported delinquent behaviors. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 Black girls enrolled in alternative schools designated for "delinquent" adolescents. Using dimensional analysis, two general categories emerged from the data: defending/protecting self and self-interest. All of the girls indicated that they used aggressive behaviors to protect themselves from perceived threats. Generally, the girls protected themselves using two strategies: "Hold off" strategies were used to avoid physical and/or verbal conflicts, and "face down" strategies were used to physically confront threats. To a lesser degree, girls discussed gaining materially from specific behaviors (e.g., stealing and lying). One important implication of this research study is that aggressive Black girls may often perceive their environment to be hostile and nonsupportive. Consequently, support needs to be provided for Black girls who engage in aggressive behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-154
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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