In the United States, Black youth are consistently overrepresented in the child welfare and juvenile carceral systems. However, Black girls represent an invisible population whose lived experiences are historically devalued and silenced. Scholars have begun to explore Black girls in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, the adultification of Black girls, and the lives of crossover or dual-status youth. That is, youth who have been involved in both the juvenile and the child welfare systems simultaneously or at different periods. Previous research on crossover youth has focused on young boys—primarily Black and Latino males—from the perspective of professionals, program models, and interventions rather than from youth and their experiences. Furthermore, there is a lack of understanding about how adultification impacts Black girls’ lives in these dual systems (i.e., child welfare and juvenile justice). Thus, the purpose of this contextualization is to examine the role of adultification in the experiences of Black girls with dual status using two theoretical frameworks: critical race feminism and intersectionality. To accomplish this goal, the paper begins by exploring the literature on identity development, discrimination, and bias among Black girls who have experiences in one or both systems. Next, the consequences of crossover or dual-status youth are discussed. Using critical race feminism and intersectionality, the author explored how adultification for Black girls with dual status may create unique experiences different from their peers. Suggestions for future research, policy, and practice are provided to aid social work leaders, researchers, and legal professionals in better serving this population, through an antiracist lens, and further the empowerment of, and advocacy for, Black girls.
 Crossover youth and dual status youth are both terms used to describe this population. For the purposes of this paper, the term dual status will be used.
Key Take Away Points
- Recently, scholars have begun to explore the experiences of Black girls in the CWS and JCS (Yoon et al., 2021), the adultification of Black girls (Epstein et al., 2017), and the lives of former dual-status adolescents (Simmons-Horton, 2020).
- A lack of understanding remains about how adultification impacts Black girls' lives in these dual systems.
- Using critical race feminism and intersectionality, I explore how adultification may create a unique experience for Black girls who are identified as dual status that is different from their peers.
- Drawing from the literature, and grounded in CRF and intersectionality, it appears that adultification is impacting Black girls with a dual status in three unique ways: (a) their biased treatment in child-serving systems; (b) their awareness of the systemic injustices that make their childhood different from their peers; and (c) their ability to develop critical consciousness and foster positive identity development through empowerment and pride despite their disenfranchisement.
- Suggestions for future research, policy, and practice are provided to aid social work leaders, researchers, and legal professionals in better serving this population, through an antiracist lens, and further the empowerment of, and advocacy for, Black girls.
Alexandra Hood is a Ph.D. student in the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Her research interests focus on the adultification of Black girls and how their race and gender identities impact their involvement in dual institutions: child welfare and juvenile carceral.
I want to thank Dr. Quenette L. Walton (University of Houston) and Dr. Erin Boyce (Metropolitan State University of Denver) for their support, encouragement, and guidance through this process.
Hood, Alexandra N.
"Dual Status and Adultification: Black Girls' Lives in Context,"
Journal of Family Strengths: Vol. 23:
1, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/jfs/vol23/iss1/3