All About Girls Summit Seeks to Create ‘Girls Movement’

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Mary Marx

Mary Marx

Mary Marx would like to see a national movement for girls.

The president and CEO of the Florida-based PACE Center for Girls is concerned about the criminalization of girls. In 2013, 37 percent of girls detained in the juvenile justice system in the United States were held for status offenses such as truancy, running away and curfew violations, accruing to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Marx is concerned about the fact that large numbers of detained girls had previously been sexually or physically abused. Such abuse is one of the biggest risk factor for girls becoming involved in the juvenile justice system, according to a 2015 report by the Human Rights Project for Girls and two other groups.

The organization is sponsoring a national summit Jan. 28-29 in Jacksonville, Florida, that is expected to draw 650 people, ranging from policymakers to leaders of girl-serving organization.

Chelsea Clinton will be the keynote speaker.

The conference will open a conversation, Marx said, including the question: “Is there a need for a national movement for girls?”

“What would a movement look like? How would we have a collective impact?” she asked.

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One goal is to create national partnerships among girl-serving organizations. “Together we’re much stronger than if we continue to act independently,” Marx said.

Screenshot 2015-12-30 17.15.04“What is it going to take in terms of resources? How do we think about funding a movement for girls?” she asked.

“We’re really looking across a continuum,” Marx said. “How do we change the landscape for the sexual-abuse-to-prison pipeline, stop criminalizing girls’ behavior? How do we protect and armor girls with the skills they need to be successful?”

PACE is a nonprofit that operates 19 centers serving girls who are at risk of delinquency. The organization has been recognized as a national model for keeping girls out of the juvenile justice system.

Among those expected to attend the summit are representatives from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the White House Council on Women and Girls, the National Crittenton Foundation and NoVo Foundation.

Girls Inc. and Girls Scouts of the USA are also taking part.

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