Girls, and particularly girls of color, are arrested and detained for intra-family in-home assaults at rates disproportionate to their overall share of the juvenile justice system. From 1996 to 2005, girls' arrests for assault increased more than boys' arrests.

Girls' arrests for simple assault increased 24 percent as compared with a 4.1 percent decrease in simple assault arrests for boys; and 60 percent of juvenile female domestic assault offenders committed their violence against a parent, as compared with 46 percent of juvenile male domestic assault offenders.

Arrests of girls for domestic assaults are particularly likely when there are other children in the home, making police reluctant to charge and remove an adult caretaker. As a result of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act's (VAWA) initial support of mandatory arrest policies and the 2005 reauthorization's support of pro-arrest policies, many states have mandatory or pro-arrest arrest laws or policies for domestic violence cases. These laws, which are designed to diffuse typical domestic violence situations by removing the batterer from the home, are having the unintended consequence of increasing arrests and detentions of girls for family-based violence.  

Through strict enforcement of technical probation and parole violations, liberal use of warrants, and increased charging of misdemeanor and home-based offenses, girls with significant experiences of trauma who pose little threat to public safety continue to populate secure detention and post-adjudication facilities. Meanwhile, states continue to struggle as female status offenders escalate through a system that is not designed to encourage their development into productive adulthood. Girls charged with assaults and domestic battery arising from family violence are, in effect, the new status offenders, whose chaotic family situations and human services needs form the backdrop for entry into the juvenile justice system. (Francine T. Sherman. "Justice for Girls: Are We Making Progress?" Criminal Justice 28, no.2 (2013): 9-17.)

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP's) Girls Study Group (2004) and National Girls Initiative (2010) identified ways in which the juvenile justice process is biased against or harmful to girls. In 2009, the Girls Study Group disseminated important descriptive data about girls in the system and addressed the troubling mistaken impression that girls were becoming more violent. That analysis found that rather than signifying an overall increase in girls' aggression, the increase in arrests of girls for assaults was in large part the result of changed laws and law enforcement practices around domestic violence. ("The Delinquent Girl," Margaret A. Zahn ed., 2009).

Results from a five-year study indicated that domestic violence arrest laws do affect the likelihood of arrest in cases involving child-on-parent violence. Both female and male juveniles were significantly more likely to be arrested if the incident occurred in a state that had either pro-arrest or mandatory arrest policies rather than discretionary arrest policies. Findings also showed that, after controlling for other factors, girls were increasingly more likely to be arrested over the five-year study period for assaults against parents relative to boys. This finding lends support to the argument that, irrespective of domestic violence arrest laws, how police respond to incidents involving disputes between girls and their parents does appear to be changing more than for boys. ("Policies, Gender, and Police Response to Child-Parent Violence," Strom, Warner, Tichavsky, Zahn. Crime & Delinquency, January 2014).