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Critical Analysis Of "Girlhood" (Movie)

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In class we watched the video Girlhood. In the movie, we were able to watch two female offenders in the juvenile justice system. We were introduced to Shanae, a young girl, convicted of murder. We also met Megan, who, unlike Shanae, was not at the Waxter Juvenile Facility for murder, but, by comparison, lesser crimes. The movie follows the girl's journeys after they leave Waxter, each for different reasons. The Facility took a genuine interest in Shanae, transferring her to a new institution only when they thought she was prepared. They also went home with her when she was ready, and one staff member was even there when Shanae went to her senior prom. With Megan, the Facility took an entirely different approach, choosing to give up on her. Waxter's staff released her within days of her trying to escape and we get to watch as she returns to a life on the street involving drugs and drug users, with no intervention from the staff at Waxter. Shanae ends up going to college and Megan ends up going to jail.

I think the video is a fair look into the juvenile justice system. The reality is not every child can be helped, nor do these facilities have the time or resources to help each child that comes through the door. It was evident, through their words and actions, the staff at Waxter believed in Shanae's recovery more than they did Megan's. I feel this is understandable, not right, but understandable, considering the circumstances. Throughout the video, you could see Shanae grow up, learn remorse, and understand the severity of her actions. Megan, on the other hand, continued to blame others for her actions, continuing down the same road. I think Shanae's overcoming her situation is admirable, especially considering all that she has done and all that has been done to her. Megan's outcome is not surprising, considering her background and support system (or lack thereof).

As I watched the movie, the theory that seems easiest to apply to Megan is Bandura's learning theory. Taken from class notes, "Individuals act the way they do because they have learned to do so through modeling and/or reinforcement." Not only is Megan's mother a drug addict, but her grandmother has a drinking problem. In the video we actually see Megan's mother bring this fact up to Megan's grandmother. Megan's mother has also been in and out of jail throughout Megan's life, modeling this behavior for Megan. We also see that Megan's mother is quick to blame her own mother for her behavior (because the grandmother was around to take care of Megan when she was young). Megan uses drugs and thinks jail is just where people go because that is her reality. Also, for the same reasons, Lemert's labeling theory seems to apply equally as well



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