Girls in San Francisco, Benchmarks for the Future

The San Francisco Commission and Department on the Status of Women are pleased to present a groundbreaking report focused on girls in San Francisco. This report, entitled A Report on Girls in San Francisco, Benchmarks for the Future, is the first of its kind analysis and review on the status of San Francisco girls on social, economic, educational, health and criminal justice issues. The report also represents a committed effort by the Commission and Department on the Status of Women to conduct gender analysis as the first step to advancing sound public policy that meets the needs of women and girls.


For the full version of the report, or for the Executive Summary, you can download the PDF files using the links below. The HTML version of the report on this page has had all footnotes and figures removed.

Executive Summary - Report on Girls in San Francisco, Benchmarks for the Future (PDF)
Report on Girls in San Francisco, Benchmarks for the Future (PDF)

A Report on

Girls in San Francisco



APRIL 2003





Prepared by:

Ann Lehman and Carol Sacco

Department on the Status of Women





The San Francisco Commission and Department on the Status of Women would like to thank the following individuals for assisting with this report:

Al Abramowitz, San Francisco Department of Public Health; Gena Castro, United Way of the Bay Area; Cassie Coleman, San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department; Norm Constantine, Public Health

Institute; Maria Cora, San Francisco Department of Public Health; Wayne Dughi, California Department of Education; Matt Fratus, Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC); Sharon Friedrichsen, San Francisco Office of the Controller; Andrea R. Johnston, Girls Speak Out; Ruth Kavanagh, Employment, Labor Market Consultant; Dan Kelly, San Francisco Department of Human Services; Herb Lum, San Francisco Housing Authority; Mike Males, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice; Jesse D. McKinnon, United States Census Bureau; Colleen Montoya, San Francisco Youth Commission; Iman Nazeeri-Simmons, San Francisco Department of Public Health; Phong Pham, San Francisco Unified School District; Erin Pirkle, San Francisco Department of Public Health; Julie Posadas, San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department; Debbie Reed, Public Policy Institute of California; Shelia Rhatigan Arcelona, San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department; Donna Rothenbaum, California Department of Education; Jasper Rubin, San Francisco Planning Department; Tajel Shah, San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and Their Families; Lindsay Swain, United Way of the Bay Area; Candace Thomsen, San Francisco Department of Human Services; and Adam Van de Water, San Francisco Board of Supervisors.


The Department on the Status of Women would like to acknowledge Commissioners Emily Murase and Andrea Shorter for their ongoing support and assistance during this project. Commissioner Shorter has worked to improve the status of girls in San Francisco in the juvenile justice system and Commissioner Murase is dedicated to the work of the Department. Both are committed to ensuring that we make a difference in the lives of girls.

Caroline Donnola and Justine McGonagle of the Department on the Status of Women provided invaluable assistance and played a critical role with this project. Executive Director Belle Taylor-McGhee contributed critical feedback and direction and Department staff provided ongoing support. Thanks to our former interns Jessica Brennan and Nicole Cabrera for their dedication, hard work and research. Many other organizations and individuals, not mentioned here, made their information available to us, and for that we are grateful.



In this detailed snapshot, the San Francisco Commission and Department on the Status of Women take an in-depth look at middle and high school girls in the City and County of San Francisco. We began the process by asking a series of questions:

" Who are the girls and young women of San Francisco?

" What measurements exist to see how they are doing?

" What is the racial, ethnic, educational, economic and health make-up of San Francisco girls?

" What is their experience in the criminal justice system?

" How do issues of safety and violence affect their daily lives?

" What can we discover at the local level that will help us to inform and advise policy makers and service providers about San Francisco girls' immediate and future needs?


We were surprised that the answers to these questions were not readily available. For example, many institutions still do not make a distinction between girls and boys in their data collection practices. The major result of not disaggregating data based on gender, especially in the juvenile information arena, is that little is known about the political, social, physical and economic state of girls as separate from boys. Even when information specific to girls exists, it is often scattered among various government and private agencies and difficult to access. Collecting this information in a central place and encouraging the sharing of information are major goals of this project. This report answers the questions above based on documented research and collected information from local, state and national sources.



The initial impetus for improved data collection and analysis on girls and young women came from two task forces staffed by the Department on the Status of Women. The work of the Out of Sight/Out of Mind

Girls in the Juvenile Justice System (1996-1998) Task Force pointed to the need for additional information on girls as a separate and distinct group with gender-specific needs. This task force focused on girls caught in the juvenile justice system who were receiving essentially the same services as boys within the juvenile justice system. Research, however, indicated that girls came into the system for different reasons and with different needs. Thus, we identified the need for additional quantitative and qualitative information to further examine these girls and young women in order to identify their particular needs.


A local Task Force was also convened in support of the United Nations Treaty known as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, (CEDAW). CEDAW is a human rights treaty with the goal of ending discrimination against women and girls in political, social and public life, status of nationality, education, health care, employment, financial endeavors, sports, cultural life, marriage and family relations. In 1998, San Francisco adopted an ordinance to implement CEDAW, becoming the first municipality in the United States to do so. While 170 other countries have adopted the treaty to date, the United States has not. The treaty has been awaiting United States Senate ratification since it was signed by former President Jimmy Carter in 1980.


The San Francisco Ordinance is unique in its mandate. First, it created a Task Force charged with looking at human rights and discrimination issues throughout the City. The Task Force pushed for the collection of disaggregated data and acknowledged the multiple identities of girls whenever possible, including their race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality, nationality and immigration status.


Second, the CEDAW Task Force required equitable treatment of all persons and based its analysis of equity on data collected about who receives services, how effective these services are, what funds are being expended and whether services and programs met the needs of the population served. The CEDAW Task Force is currently monitoring its five-year action plan to address these human rights principles.



Two major demographics about San Francisco girls stand out. The first is how few girls there are, and the second is their amazing diversity. San Francisco has the smallest percent of youth of any county in the state. In 2000, San Francisco girls numbered a little over 55,000. Approximately 79% of all girls, aged 10-17 years old, numbering just over 24,000, are girls of color, and 89% of the girls who attend public middle and high schools are girls of color. Approximately 7% of all girls in San Francisco live in poverty. Ten percent (10%) of public high school girls self identified as lesbian, bisexual or sexual orientation unknown.


Most girls graduate high school. Of these, almost two-thirds take college preparatory classes. However, in 2002, the majority of high school girls taking the California High School Exit Exam failed, and only 30% of the girls taking the exam passed the math section and 48% passed the reading section. Thirty years after the passage of Title IX, young women have enrolled in some vocational technology classes, but not classes in automobile repair or construction.


We found that girls in San Francisco face complex social and environmental challenges that affect their physical and mental well-being. Although almost one-third of girls in public high school report being sexually active; they have, for the most part, avoided unwanted pregnancies and serious physical harm from others. The rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are much higher for girls than for boys. Three-quarters of all 15-19 year olds infected with STDs are girls.


Regarding self esteem, health and fitness, a majority of both public middle and high school girls report that they are dissatisfied with their weight and many are dieting without any perceived need. The vast majority are not meeting the six state-mandated fitness standards. Over one-quarter of public high school girls and one-fifth of middle school girls report being verbally harassed about their appearance.


While most public high school girls report that they do not take drugs, one-third report that they have been offered drugs at school and have tried marijuana. Eleven percent (11%) smoke cigarettes. Almost one-quarter of public high school students and one-third of middle school girls have been in physical fights in the past year and 6.5% of high school girls and 15.7% of middle school girls report feeling unsafe at school and missing school as a result. Seven percent (7%) of public high school girls have experienced dating violence and 6% report that they had sexual intercourse when they didn't want to.


Almost three-quarters of public middle school girls and almost one-third of public high school girls report being depressed, and 8% of public high school girls have attempted suicide.


An alarming trend among girls in San Francisco defies national and local trends for boys. San Francisco girls, as well as girls coming to San Francisco from neighboring communities, are getting arrested in higher numbers and for more serious crimes than girls in other parts of the state.


Among ethnic and racial groups in San Francisco we note some important highlights. Asian/Pacific Islander girls make up 37% of the total population of girls in San Francisco and 50% of the K-12 public school girl population, as compared to 11.1% of girls in public schools statewide. Asian/Pacific Islander girls represent the largest number of girls living in poverty. White girls make up 23% of the total population of girls in San Francisco, but they are only 10.2% of the K-12 public school girl population. This infers that approximately half of White girls attend private schools.


Latina girls make up 22% of the total population of girls in San Francisco and 22% of the K-12 public school girl population. Latina girls in California make up 44.3% of the K-12 public school girl population. While Latina girls in San Francisco and California have seen a drop in the total numbers of teen births, births to Latina young women remain almost half of all teen births in San Francisco.


African American girls are particularly affected by several disturbing trends. More than one in three live in poverty in San Francisco. And although African American girls represent only 12% of the population, they account for the majority of girls in foster care, nearly 72%. African American girls also have the highest incidence of arrests and detentions.



The Department on the Status of Women conducted broad and extensive research to gather information on girls in San Francisco. No primary research was conducted by the Department for this report. We conducted a wide-ranging investigation into other organizations' reported data to compile a cohesive report and to reach our goal of providing a benchmark of where girls are today. We accessed many different sources and reviewed as many sources as possible on health, education, safety and violence. Whenever possible, the data presented in this report was derived directly from primary sources rather than from secondary sources or summaries. We relied on local information as well as state and national information. Our references are cited in detailed footnotes throughout this report. We encourage the reader to review them for additional information.


Limitations on Data

When we first began our research on girls, we faced many challenges. Frequently, data did not exist citywide, but rather for a particular subset or neighborhood. For example, while the information in a youth health study conducted by the San Francisco Unified School District was essential in forming an understanding of health issues for girls in middle and high school, it was necessarily limited to girls in public schools. As we gathered information for this report, we were particularly cognizant of the various methods used by organizations to collect and report data.


Additionally, it was rare to have an organization collect or report information using the same method as another organization. While many organizations collected data based on age and race, data on youth was rarely separated by gender, thus making it difficult to cull gender specific information, especially as it relates to race and ethnicity. Collecting information on girls specific to one city or county was equally challenging.


Throughout the report, we remain consistent in our use of names for race and ethnic categories as much as possible. Again, we relied on the initial agency's definitions and reporting of race and ethnic categories. It is essential to understand that each agency employed different criteria. At times, in order to make comparisons, we combined groups in an effort to be consistent. This frequently involved groups identified as Asian/Pacific Islander. When this situation arose, we attempted to include a further breakdown of the available information.


Although it is challenging to present data from so many sources, we have nonetheless attempted to make the report as cohesive as possible and alert the reader to any major discrepancies.


Significant Resources

The United States Census Bureau acts as a clearing house of compiled information. Every ten years the Census Bureau conducts a nationwide census, collecting information about the people and the economy as well as geographic data. The 2000 Census was a milestone because statistics and information were readily accessible through the use of technology like the World Wide Web. The information collected in 2000 was invaluable as it provided a framework for data on girls in San Francisco.


The San Francisco Unified School District utilizes a system developed by the Division of Adolescent and School Health and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to administer a Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey to the students in San Francisco's public middle and high schools. This survey is administered every two years and focuses on the health, well-being and behavior of students.


The average sample size was approximately 1,600 students at the high school level (grades 9-12) and 2,000 at the middle school level (grades 6-8). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses a 60% response rate for weighing data. The CDC applies a weighing factor to each student record to adjust for non-response and the varying probabilities of selection. San Francisco reached a 60% rate in 2001 for both the middle and high school surveys. The weighted results can be used to make inferences about the health-risk behaviors of students attending regular public school in San Francisco.1


The San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and their Families, the San Francisco Housing

Authority, the San Francisco Department of Human Services, the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department and the San Francisco Department of Public Health were all instrumental in providing local information used in this report. State agencies, including the California Bureau of Justice and the Criminal Statistics Center, the California Department of Education Educational Demographics Office, the California Department of Health Services and the California Department of Social Services proved to be dependable sources of information on girls statewide.


Despite the many challenges in collecting the data, we are pleased to present this report as a benchmark for the future on the status of girls in San Francisco.




Girls in the City and County of San Francisco are unique in many ways. In the demographic section of this report, we provide an overview of girls in San Francisco in the year 2000.2 We look at basic demographic characteristics about girls, such as their age, race and ethnicity. For comparison, we look at some demographics for both the United States and California. Our primary focus is on middle and high school students. The information that follows can help us better understand and serve girls.


Many organizations classify race and ethnicity differently. For our section on demographics, we utilized the United States Census Bureau definitions for race and ethnicity, changing the names but not the numbers for consistency purposes. For example, the Census Bureau uses the term Hispanic to identify persons born in Latin American countries or persons born of Latino descent. We use Latina/Latino to refer to the same individuals. See Figure 4 for the United States Census Bureaus' categories.


General Demographics

In 2000, the United States Census reported that women and girls made up just about half (50.9%) of the total population. This was also true in California, where 50.2% of the population was female, and in San

Francisco, where 49.2% of the population was female.3


Persons under 18 years of age made up 25.7% of the United States, 27.3% of California and 14.5% of San Francisco's population. In California, San Francisco had the smallest percent of the youth population.6


In California and San Francisco, over 50% of the total population were people of color. In the year 2000, the percent of people of color by geographic area was approximately as follows: United States, 31% people of color; California, 53% people of color; and San Francisco, 56% people of color. San Francisco's population was considerably more diverse than the United States as a whole and even more diverse than California's total population. See the chart below (Figure 4) for a complete breakdown.


Demographics of San Francisco

In 2000, the youth population in San Francisco (individuals under the age of 18) was 112,820.11 Of these, the female youth population was 55,011 (49%) and the male youth population was 57,791 (51%).


Figure 5 reflects the number of girls in San Francisco by age group in 2000. According to the United States Census, there were approximately 30,892 (56%) girls in the age group of 1-9 years of age, 15,000 (27%) girls who were 10-14 years of age, and 9,119 (17%) girls who were 15-17 years old.12


In 2000, girls under the age of 18 made up 7.1% of San Francisco's total population.14 The age distribution for San Francisco for both men and women, respectively, generally reflects a bell-shaped curve.


The total San Francisco girl youth population in 2000 disaggregated by race and ethnicity was 11,969 Latina, 12,628 White, 6,393 African American, 112 Native American, 19,935 Asian, 525 Pacific Islander, 302 Other and 3,147 Multi-Race girls. There were no significant gender differences in the make-up of racial/ethnic categories for the youth population of San Francisco. The table below (Figure 7) gives the race and ethnicity of female and male youth populations in San Francisco based on the United States Census data from 2000.


San Francisco girls differ considerably in their racial and ethnic backgrounds than the make-up of San Francisco's total population. Figure 8 below shows the make-up of girls in San Francisco disaggregated by race and ethnicity. Approximately 23% of girls in San Francisco were White, 11.6% were African American, 36.2% were Asian, 21.8% were Latina and 1% were Pacific Islander.18 San Francisco's total population was approximately 56% people of color, while the San Francisco girl population was approximately 77% of color, making girls considerably more diverse than the San Francisco population.


The graph below shows the percent of the girl population by race and ethnicity for all City and County of San Francisco girls in the year 2000.


Since we focus on girls who are in middle school and high school, the critical category to look at is the age group from 10 to 17 years old. During the year 2000, their total population was 24,119 in San Francisco. Of these, 5,120 girls were White, 3,016 girls were African American, 9,439 girls were Asian, 4,920 girls were Latina, 48 girls were Native American, 242 girls were Pacific Islander, 107 girls were Other and 1,227 girls were Multi-Race for a total of 24,119.21 These figures represent most middle school and high school girls in San Francisco.22


This group of middle and high school girls is more diverse than San Francisco adults or younger girls living in San Francisco.24 Middle and high school girls in San Francisco were approximately 12.5% African American, 39.1% Asian, 20.4% Latina, 0.2% Native American, 1% Pacific Islander, 0.4% Other and 5.1% who identify as Multi-Race. Within this age group, girls of color made up 4 out of every 5 girls.


San FranciscoNeighborhoods

Figure 13 is a table displaying the San Francisco population including youth and middle and high school girls by neighborhood in 2000. San Francisco neighborhoods with large middle and high school girl populations, ages 10-17, include Outer Mission/Excelsior/Ingelside (3,202), Inner Mission/Bernal Heights (2,647), and Bayview/Hunters Point (2,302).26 For a detailed look at San Francisco's neighborhood youth populations, see the figures below.


San FranciscoSupervisorial Districts

As shown below, the San Francisco Supervisorial District with the largest girl population, in both the number of girls (9,398) and also as a percent of the population of that district (12.2%) in the year 2000 was District 10. San Francisco Supervisorial District 10 includes the Bayview Hunters Point and Potrero Hill neighborhoods. The District with the smallest number of girls was District 2, with 4.4% or 2,891 girls under 18 years old. District 2 includes the Marina and Presidio neighborhoods.


Lesbian Youth

For information on lesbian youth, we referred to the San Francisco Unified School District Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS). This study conducted by the Citywide School Planning Committee uses a comprehensive questionnaire covering a variety of subjects related to the experiences of young people in public schools. Part of the committee's aim is to identify the risks school-aged youth face, as well as inform the public and address these issues. The 2001 San Francisco YRBSS asked public high school students questions about sexual orientation.29


In answer to the question: How would you describe your sexual orientation or preference? San

Francisco high school girls answered with the following responses 0.7% lesbian, 3.9% bisexual, 6.1% not sure and 89.3% heterosexual. San Francisco high school boys were asked the same question and gave the following responses, 0.8% homosexual, 2.1% bisexual, 4.2% not sure and 92.9% heterosexual.30 Noting a slight gender difference, more girls than boys indicated they were homosexual, bisexual or not sure: 10.7% for girls and 7.1% for boys. See Figure 15 below.


To further explore this area, we looked at 2000-2001 service data from a San Francisco community based organization that services Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth, known as LYRIC the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center. LYRIC's service data indicated that out of 23,058 contacts, 28% of callers to their national talk line were female, 61% were male, 6% identified themselves as transgender and 5% were questioning. In terms of participants in local programming 42.5% were female, 46.2% were male, 3% transgender, 2.2% female to male, 1.8% male to female, 0.2% intersex, 0.9% questioning and 3.1% other.32 (See Figures 16 and 17)



In November of 2001, the San Francisco Planning Department stated, If forced to find housing today, less than twelve percent of San Franciscans could afford a home here. 35


We focus here on income and housing data and provide a snapshot of girls in poverty who are receiving subsidized care from a variety of county and state-run programs. Much of this research was collected from databases maintained at or through the San Francisco Department of Human Services, the San Francisco Housing Authority, the San Francisco Planning Department and the United States Census Bureau.36



The United States Census Bureau defines a family as a group of two or more people who reside together and who are related by birth, marriage or adoption. A household is defined as to include all the people who occupy a housing unit as their usual place of residence.37


In 2000, the United States Census estimated the median household income in San Francisco at $57,417; for a family living in San Francisco it was $64,062.38 The mean household income was $81,151, and the mean family income was $90,155.39 The median divides the income distribution into two equal parts: one-half of the cases falling below the median income and one-half above the median. For households and families, the mean income is based on the distribution of the total number of households and families, including those with no income.40

Forty-four percent (44%) of San Francisco households had an annual income under $50,000, 30% of households had an annual income between $50,000 and $99,999, and 26% of households had an annual income over $100,000.41 Figure 18 illustrates the household income for San Francisco in 2000.


In 2000, the San Francisco Department of Human Services observed:

& the cost of living in San Francisco has risen, causing many families to flee the city. As a result of this trend, low-income families have grown ever more concentrated in specific neighborhoods and communities. For example, the (1999) median household income in San Francisco is $55,221, but in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood, it is $38,669.43


The Self Sufficiency Standard (SSS) is an alternative poverty tool used to measure and calculate what it would cost to move families away from poverty to self sufficiency.44 Dr. Diane Pearce, former Executive Director of the Women and Poverty Project of Wider Opportunities for Women, developed the Self Sufficiency Standard. The Self Sufficiency Standard calculates the amount of money working adults need to meet their basic needs without subsidies of any kind. The Self Sufficiency Standard calculation includes children, food, transportation, medical care, clothing, miscellaneous taxes and tax credits.


According to the 2000 SSS for San Francisco, it took a wage rate of $20.79 an hour to move one adult and one preschool child out of poverty in San Francisco.45 The Self Sufficiency Standard put the County of San Francisco alongside San Mateo and Marin Counties as the most costly in the state, if not the country.



In 2000, the United States Department of Labor set the poverty guidelines for a family of four at a family income level of $17,050 annually.46 Poverty data can change depending on the current economic reality and the detail of the income analysis. The United States Census 2000 showed approximately 15,443 youth living in San Francisco in poverty (roughly 14%) out of a total youth population of 109,001 for the year 1999. Of these, 7%, or 7,577, were girls under the age of 18.47


As the table below illustrates, there were over 2,000 girls living in poverty for each of the three race/ethnicity groups, Asian/Pacific Islander, African American and Latina. White and Native American girls were at a much lower level, at 662 and 46, respectively.49


The graph below compares the population of San Francisco girls living in poverty, disaggregated by race/ethnicity. Among San Francisco girls under the age of 18, an estimated 17% of all Latina, 5% of all White, 35% of all African American, 14% of all Native American and 12% of all Asian/Pacific Islander girls lived in poverty in 1999.51 The most stark statistic is that, in 1999, 1 out of every 3 African American girls lived in poverty.


In San Francisco, 32,219 students (41%) were eligible for a school lunch program during the school year 2000-2001. This supports a larger percent of girls living in or near poverty.53 The San Francisco percent is lower than the statewide average of approximately 47%, as reflected in Figure 22.


Neighborhood Income and Poverty

Figure 23 shows both the median family income and percent of families with youth by neighborhood. In 1999, the median San Francisco family income was $63,545. Six percent (6%) of San Francisco families with children under the age of 18 live in poverty. These neighborhoods are based on United States Census data by zip code, and they may not conform to familiar neighborhood boundaries.


Low Income Subsidy Programs

To further develop the picture of girls and poverty in San Francisco, we included a variety of government subsidy programs administered by the San Francisco Department of Human Services (DHS). Each of these programs assists families in need. Figure 24 gives the total number of youth by gender for the different aid programs and Figure 25 gives a breakdown of San Francisco girls by race and ethnicity for the subsidy programs.


In early 2002, the San Francisco CalWORKs, a major welfare program, provided assistance to a total of 4,352 girls 18 years and under. The primary recipients of CalWORKs assistance programs were disproportionately girls of color. Of the San Francisco girl population receiving aid, 45.5% were African American girls, followed by Asian/Pacific Islander girls at 26.4%, Latina girls at 13.6% and White girls at 7.9%.


The chart below gives the numbers and percent of San Francisco girls in these low-income programs by race and ethnicity. The San Francisco Department of Human Services data did not include a separate category for Native Americans. The DHS data included a breakdown of Asian/Pacific Islander girls into the categories stated in Figure 26.



Housing in San Francisco is expensive. According to the report Building A Healthier San Francisco, San Francisco was ranked as the least affordable place to live in the country, with only 6% of homes affordable to median income households in 2000.62


The San Francisco Planning Department found that the average median price for a San Francisco home was $490,000, just under half a million dollars in 2001.63 The San Francisco Planning Department also found rental units expensive and unaffordable for many. The Planning Department listed the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment as $2,692 in 2000.64


Most of the existing housing stock and new housing constructed in San Francisco is not affordable t the majority of people who reside in the city. San Francisco does not meet affordable housing needs as determined by the State Office of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). San Francisco met only 13% of the established need, set by the State of California, for low income housing. In 1999 and 2000, San Francisco exceeded the need for above moderate income housing by 128%.65


In 2000, there were an estimated 346,527 housing units in San Francisco. Of these, 325,605 were occupied with a 0.8% homeowner vacancy rate. There were a total of 338,141 households. Of these, 149,704 were family households and 57,662 of these housed a child under the age of 18 years.66


The primary mission of the San Francisco Housing Authority is to provide safe, sanitary, affordable and decent housing to very low-income families, senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Amongst a variety of responsibilities, the Housing Authority oversees both public housing (housing built with public funds and run by the Housing Authority) and Section 8 housing, a federally funded program that gives housing subsidies to low-income families. The San Francisco Housing Authority collects data on its tenants and provided the following information from April 2002:

" The total of San Francisco girls 18 years and under in public housing was 2,169; total number of boys was 2,193. Of these, the vast majority were African American: 1,395 (64%) girls and 1,360 (62%) boys.67

" The total of San Francisco Section 8 subsidies for girls 18 years and under was 2,676; for boys it was 2,559. Again, the vast majority of these residents were African American: 1,376 (51%) girls and 1,275 (50%) boys.68


Below is a graph detailing the number of youth in San Francisco's public housing. Latinos/Latinas are included in each category as the San Francisco Housing Authority keeps race and ethnicity records separately. Out of all girls in San Francisco public housing in 2002, 10% (216) were Latinas.69



On October 25, 2001, the Mayor's Office on Homelessness counted the number of homeless people in San Francisco.72 Residing in family shelters, homeless shelters or on waiting lists, there were 131 men, 263 women and 424 children on the night of the Homeless Count.73 Many families and individuals are on waiting lists requesting shelter. In many cases, these families are temporarily living with relatives or friends. The count found 171 children in family shelters, 17 children in domestic violence shelters and 236 children living with relatives or friends.74


The San Francisco Department of Human Services also conducted a count of people in transitional housing and family shelters in early 2002. This count resulted in a total of 350 homeless youth, of which they estimated to be 143 girls and 207 boys. The Department of Human Services also estimated homelessness among girls as follows: 29 girls (20%) under the age of 1, 66 girls (46.2%) between the ages of 1-5, 40 girls (27.7%) between the ages of 6-12, and 9 girls (6.2%) between the ages of 13-17 (see Figure 29).75


Foster Care

As of September 1999, there were 581,000 children in foster care in the United States.77 Of these, 262,429 (48%) were girls and 284,571 (52%) were boys. The race and ethnicity breakdown was as follows: White 199,735 (34%), African American 223,751 (39%), Latino 98,396 (17%), America Indian/Alaskan Native 9,475 (2%), Asian/Pacific Islander 6,109 (1%) and Unknown/Unable to Determine 43,533 (7%).78 For comparison, we looked at foster care data collected by the State of California on children in out-of-home-care for the month of January 2002. We provide data for both boys and girls together on race/ethnicity since the data has not been disaggregated by gender. A number of things are striking about this comparison, but the most notable is the high incidence of African American youth in foster care in San Francisco (71.7%) compared to the rest of California (33.8%). On the other hand, in San Francisco, there is a lower incidence of Latino youth in foster care (10.5%) compared to the state overall (31.8%)


The San Francisco Department of Human Services data as of January 2002 showed 2,388 youth in foster care. Of these 1,171 (49%) were girls. This follows a similar pattern compared to the statewide gender breakdown for youth in foster care (48.5% of girls). The vast majority of the San Francisco girls were 10-18 years old. There were 1,217 (51%) boys of the total on the same date. Of the girls in foster care on that date, 71.8% were African American girls, 10.8% were White, 8.4% were Latina, 5.4% were Asian/Pacific Islander and 3.6% were of Unknown or Other racial/ethnic background.82


Almost two-thirds of girls in foster care are over the age of 10. The Department of Human Services also reported 477 youth (262 girls and 215 boys) in the San Francisco Independent Living Skills program in early 2002.85 This program helps foster youth develop the skills they need in order to live successfully once they leave the foster care system.


Poverty data collected herein supports the phenomenon identified recently in the Child Welfare League of America's article Minority as Majority: Disproportionality in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice.86 This report identifies the national trend that minority youth are disproportionately represented in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. This holds true for girls in San Francisco, especially African American girls. The article further points out that consensus exists on one point – to improve this problem the two systems must collaborate and integrate services and resources to meet the needs of children, regardless of how, why or when they enter the system. 87



Education plays a large part in young people's lives and can have a huge impact on the future of girls and young women. According to California: The State of Our Children 2002, by Children Now, California is behind much of the nation in education. While test scores are improving, the report noted that recent scores illustrate just how far California lags behind the rest of the country. [Test scores] show that just 15% of 4th-graders and 18% of 8th-graders are proficient in math, compared with 25% and 26% nationally. In science, 14% of 4th-graders and 15% of 8th-graders are proficient, compared to 28% and 30% nationally.88


How do San Francisco's girls compare? Information about the number of girls enrolled in San Francisco schools, dropout rates and the type of education they are receiving are included in this educational snapshot of girls living in San Francisco.


Public Schools

In the 2001-2002 school year, there were 60,894 students enrolled in San Francisco public schools. Of these, 29,445 (48.4%) of the student body were girls and 31,449 (51.6%) were boys.89


Figure 35 compares the public school enrollment numbers for each racial and ethnic group by gender in San Francisco. Asian/Pacific Islanders make up almost 50% of San Francisco girls enrolled in public schools, kindergarten through 12th grades. The overall racial/ethnic breakdown by percent for San Francisco girls was 49.8% Asian/Pacific Islander (including 6.3% Filipina and 0.8% Pacific Islander), 21.5% Latina, 16.3% African American, 10.2% White and 0.6% Native American.90 The public school population varies from the San Francisco girl census population in that a higher percent of Asian/Pacific Islander and African American girls attend public schools.


For a comparison of the changing race and ethnic enrollments, we looked at the 1993-1994 student population in Figure 36. The White and African American enrollment numbers have both gone down, while the Latina and Asian enrollment numbers have increased.


For another comparison, we also looked at the girl student population for the 2001-2002 year in

California. In this year, 6,147,375 children were enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade in public schools across the State of California.93 The San Francisco and California girl student populations are very different, with far more Asian and African American girls and far fewer White and Latina girls in San Francisco. For California public school girls, the race and ethnicity were as follows 44.3% Latina, 34.6% White, 11.1% Asian (including 2.4% Filipina and 0.7% Pacific Islander), 8.4% African American and 0.9% Native American.94 The racial and ethnic make-up of girls in the California public schools as compared with San Francisco schools is reflected in the following charts.


Private Schools

In the 2000-2001 school year, there were 26,620 private school students in San Francisco.97 In the same year, San Francisco public school enrollment was 61,766.98 Of the total number of students (88,386), both in public and private schools, approximately 30% attended private schools. Approximately 30% of San Francisco girls attended private schools.99


United States Census Bureau 2000 data estimates that 27,424 girls were in San Francisco middle and high schools. Of these, 13,375 girls were in middle school and 14,049 were in high school. Of all girls attending public schools, 9,946 were in middle school and 11,671 were in high school. Of all girls attending private schools, 3,429 were in middle school and 2,378 were in high school. Of all middle and high school girls, approximately 79% attended public school and 21% attended private school.100 Approximately 26% of San Francisco middle school girls are enrolled in private schools. For private high schools, this percent drops to 17%.101


Based on 1999-2000 information from the United States Department of Education, the National Center for Educational Statistics, Private School Universe Survey, there are 110 private schools in San Francisco, ranging from religious schools to all-boy or all-girl schools.104 The estimated total private school population was 25,261. There were more girls (13,228) than boys (12,033).


Out of the 110 private schools in San Francisco, there are 3 all-boy schools, and 7 all-girl schools, leaving 100 private co-educational schools. Out of the 7 all-girl schools, 4 of them are kindergarten through 8th grade and 3 are 9th through 12th grade. Of the all-boy schools only 1 is 9th through 12th grade, with the 2 other all-boy schools kindergarten through 8th grade.


Enrollment in Public Middle and High Schools

In 2001-2002, there were approximately 16,083 girls enrolled in grades 6 through 12 in San Francisco public schools.108 The middle and high school girls enrolled in the San Francisco public school system are racially and ethnically diverse, more so than the overall student population in California. In San Francisco, approximately 11% are White, 16% are African American, 52% are Asian (including Filipina and Pacific Islander), 19% are Latina,1% are Native American and 1% Multiple or No Response.109


Academic Achievement

As a measure of academic achievement, standardized educational tests have been criticized by a variety of groups. A recent study, High Stakes Testing, Uncertainty, and Student Learning, found that educational testing policies appear to result in disproportionately negative effects on the life chances of America's poor and minority students. 112 While not endorsing any particular test, we report results for a comparison of girls' educational accomplishments.


In San Francisco, Program Achievement Summaries give the Stanford-9 test results for students. The summaries are based on the performance of individual pupils on the so-called Stanford-9 content area tests, as measured through National Percentile Ranking (NPR).113 The report gives the percent of students scoring at or above the 50th percentile. In the spring of 2001, 59% of San Francisco girls and boys tested at or above the 50th National Percentile Rank in math, compared to the statewide average of 53%. Girls scored 48% while boys scored 43% at or above the National Percentile Rank for reading, again scoring slightly higher than the statewide average of 46% for girls and 42% for boys.114


Test scores for San Francisco students by race/ethnicity were not disaggregated by gender. Asian students scored high in math (82% at or above the 50th NPR) and White students scored high in reading (67% at or above the 50th NPR). African American, Latino, Pacific Islander and Native American students scored below national averages. Pacific Islander students scored the lowest (24% for math and 13% for reading at or above the 50th national percentile rank) followed by African American students (26% for math and 24% for reading), with both groups fairing worse than the statewide averages. Latino students also scored low (35% for math and 27% for reading) while Asian and White students in San Francisco were above the national averages.116


Another measure to gauge the performance of San Francisco students is the senior exit exam, known as the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE).117 Figure 47 compares the passing rates of girls in San Francisco to girls in California. In 2001-2002, 972 girls took the math test and 294 passed, averaging a 30% passing rate. This was about average for the state. Girls in San Francisco did better in English: 750 took the English test and 361 passed for a 48% passing rate. The California state average passing rate was 59%. San Francisco boys did better in math (33%) and worse in English (42%) compared to girls in San Francisco.118


Again, scores for race and ethnic groups were not disaggregated by gender. Among racial and ethnic groups, the passing rates were as follows:120

" African American: Math 15%, English 41%

" Asian: Math 52%, English 40%

" Filipino: Math 41%, English 61%

" Latino: Math 17%, English 39%

" Pacific Islander: Math 23%, English 48%

" White: Math 43%, English 71%


All race/ethnicities in San Francisco public schools scored lower in both Math and English than the California statewide averages for their same racial or ethnic groups.121


Educational findings published in California: The State of Our Children 2002 by Children Now noted disturbing racial disparities in California. While 65% of White students in public schools scored at or above the national average on STAR (Standardized Testing And Reporting) reading tests, just 31% of African American and 26% of Latino students scored above the national average. Scores by Asian students differed significantly by ethnicity, with 57% of Asian-Americans but only 39% of Pacific Islanders surpassing the national average.122


The report surmised that "& in some instances, outcomes may be related to income differences across racial groups, while in other areas, societal discrimination based on race may be a contributing factor."123


Dropout Rates

Another measure of the educational health of students is the dropout rate. For a recent snapshot, we looked at both the San Francisco Unified School District and the total San Francisco County rates. San Francisco Unified School District is a subset of the entire County of San Francisco. The County includes the San Francisco Courts and other schools, but most schools fall under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Unified School District.


The overall San Francisco County totals are higher than the San Francisco Unified School District dropout rates for 2000-2001. Total San Francisco County high school girls' enrollment was 9,589. Of these, 385 (4%) dropped out. For the boys, the total enrollment was 10,215, with 476 (4.7%) dropping out. For San Francisco girls, the dropout rate within each race/ethnicity designation follows:124

" 6.4% African American

" 5.5% White

" 5.5% Native American

" 2.2% Asian (including Filipina and Pacific Islander)


That same year 413 boys (4.3%) dropped out. The total number of dropouts for San Francisco Unified School District students by ethnic designation and gender are shown in Figure 48. During the 2000-2001 school year the total enrollment in the San Francisco Unified School District for high school students was 18,634. Of these students, 301 girls (3.3%) dropped out.


Figure 49 shows the dropout rates for the public high schools in the San Francisco Unified School District by gender. This chart shows both enrollment and number of dropouts for each high school. Of the larger San Francisco high schools (those with over 500 students), the dropout rates for girls were highest at Mission High School (11.8%) and Balboa High School (10.2%).126 In the previous year at Balboa High School, the dropout rate was 10.8% (similar to the current year), while Mission High School's rate of 5.7% was considerably smaller.


The California statewide dropout average for the 2000-2001 school year was 3% for girls and 2.5% for boys. Over the last 10 years the student dropout rate for the state has been declining. For the San Francisco public schools, it has fluctuated from a high of 5.2% in 1991-1992 to a low of 0.02% in the 1995-1996 school year. In the 2000-2001 school year, the overall San Francisco Unified School District dropout rate was 3.8%. In comparison the San Francisco County dropout rate was 4.3%, and the California public school dropout rate was 2.8%128


Math and Science

Another important aspect of education is the course enrollment, particularly in math and science, of each gender. As these numbers can change drastically from year to year, we reviewed the most recent figures from the 2001-2002 school year. Figures 50 and 51 show the number of students enrolled in intermediate algebra, advanced math, first year chemistry and first year physics by gender. In the advanced classes (advanced math, chemistry and physics), girls participated at roughly the same rate as boys. During the previous year, the enrollment of girls was slightly higher than boys.12


During both 2000-2001 and the 2001-2002 school years, Asian girls participated in upper division coursework at the highest rates. For comparison, Figure 53 lists the statewide averages for girls by race/ethnicity in the math and science upper division levels.


College Bound Students

To get a clearer picture of college bound students, we looked at how many girls are graduating from high school after having completed required courses for college. During the 2000-2001 school year, there were 3,575 graduates. Girls comprised 52% (see Figure 54).133 Of these girls, roughly 63% had taken courses that fulfill prerequisites to enter either the University of California (UC) or California State


University (CSU) systems.134 Only 51.6% of boys had taken the same required courses.135 When comparing San Francisco public school graduates to California public school graduates, a more remarkable pattern emerges. Statewide, only 38.8% of high school girls graduated with UC or CSU prerequisites, and only 32.1% of high school boys graduated with these prerequisites. Overall, the state average is approximately 35%, while San Francisco's average is close to 60%.


Figure 54 shows the gender breakdown of the 316,124 graduates of California public high schools. Of these students, 112,469 (35.6%) graduated with the required courses necessary for entrance to a UC or CSU campus. Graduating students in San Francisco have a higher percent: 57.5% took the required UC or CSU prerequisites compared to the statewide average. San Francisco girls in particular were almost 25% above the statewide average, as the percent of girls graduating from San Francisco public schools who took the required courses was 63% compared to only 38.8% of girls doing the same in California public schools.137 Many female graduates of San Francisco public schools completed UC or CSU prerequisites.


When reviewed by racial categories, approximately 72% of Asian, 71% of White, 71% of Filipina, 47% of Native American, 43% of Latina, 43% of Pacific Islander and 38% of African American female graduates of public high schools graduated with college preparatory course work. San Francisco girls surpassed state averages in every racial category.138


While test scores can often be misleading when applied to any individual student, they can be helpful for comparisons. Other measures are the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) and the ACT Assessment (American College Testing) scores. The SAT and the ACT are college entrance exams taken by high school students. The aim of these tests is to assess the general educational ability of each student. The ACT tests four subject areas: English, math, reading and science reasoning.140 The SAT exam is comprised of two sections: verbal and math.141 The main goal of this exam is to test critical reading, problem solving and mathematical reasoning skills. Both the SAT and the ACT are critical tools used by colleges and universities to evaluate students for admission.


Figure 56 shows the average SAT scores for San Francisco public school students in 2000-2001. Out of the 2,462 students who took the SAT, 55% were girls.142 Out of girls in the 12th grade, 71.1% took the test, while only 55.6% of 12th grade boys took the SAT.143


The average verbal score for girls was 459, while for boys it was 470. In math, the average score was 505 for girls, while it was 537 for boys. When scores for both the verbal and the math are averaged together, girls received an average score of 963, boys 1,007. Boys scored higher in all areas overall.145


When compared to other students in California, students in San Francisco took the SAT at a much higher rate. In 2000-2001, only 40.9% of 12th grade girls in California took the SAT, compared to 71.1% of girls in San Francisco.146


While more San Francisco public school students took the SAT than students in California, San Francisco girls obtained higher than average math scores but lower than average verbal scores for girls statewide.


Overall, the average composite scores for girls and boys in San Francisco public schools were lower than that of California students. The average for San Francisco girls was 963, while the average for California girls was 986.


In 2000-2001, there were 450 students who took the ACT in San Francisco. Of these, the majority of students were girls (65%). The ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36. To score the ACT, four scores received on each section of the test are averaged to get an overall composite score on the test.148 The composite score was a 19.9 for girls and a 20.2 for boys.149


The scores among California public school students were only slightly different. In California, 30,646 students took the test, two-thirds of which were girls. The average composite score of California students (21.3) was slightly above that of San Francisco students (20.0).151


While the data shows that girls are taking more college preparatory courses than boys, test scores do not show significant gender differences.


Vocational Classes

Another element of girls' education in San Francisco is enrollment in Vocational Services Education courses. These courses often teach skills to students who may not go directly to college after high school but will seek full-time work instead. Frequently, vocational training or education programs focus on the skilled trades. These are important because experience in the skilled trades frequently leads to higher paying jobs.


The numbers here are too small to demonstrate any reliable patterens as they change considerably from year to year, but a few interesting trends emerge. San Francisco public school girls are participating in almost equal numbers as boys in the Exploring Technology class. The total enrollment number for Exploring Technology was 3,531. Of these students, roughly 47% were girls.153 This is considerably better than the statewide average of 37.5% for girls.154 Desktop publishing, photography and other visual communications classes offered in San Francisco also demonstrate more of a gender balance.155


In San Francisco automotive classes, more traditional gender breakdowns prevailed. Of the 121 students overall, only 7.4% were girls. Another traditionally male class is construction. In San Francisco, girls were fairly well represented at 38.7%. In visual communications classes dealing with both drafting and graphics, girls participated in higher than average rates. Girls made up roughly 40% of the 415 drafting students. The statewide average for drafting was only 20% for girls.


It is interesting to note that, in San Francisco, boys participated in consumer home economics classes at higher rates than girls (57.9% versus 42.1%). This varies from a statewide average of girls (60.4%) compared to boys (37.5%). Overall, there were 2,729 girls (44.8%) of all students enrolled in vocational classes in San Francisco public schools in 2001-2002.156


With some notable exceptions (e.g., automotive, construction), both San Francisco girls and boys are branching out beyond traditional gender roles when enrolling in vocational programs.



Girls' health encompasses many areas and consequently many potential indicators and measures. For this report, we have chosen to concentrate on a few specific areas of particular concern to young women. These include sexual activity, eating disorders, teen pregnancy, mental health and suicide. Every two years, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) conducts a random survey of middle and high public school students to monitor priority health risk behaviors. The school district issues a report called the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS).157 The YRBSS was developed by the Division of Adolescent and School Health and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey is administered by trained staff and relies on volunteer student participation with parental consent. The results of this survey provide significant health information about girls and boys who attend San Francisco public schools. The average sample size was approximately 1,600 students at the high school level (grades 9-12) and 2,000 at the middle school level (grades 6-8). The weighted results can be used to make inferences about the health-risk behaviors of students attending regular public school in San Francisco.158


Sexual Activity

How sexually active are San Francisco girls? Sexual activity has serious potential consequences that may include pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.


According to the 2001 YRBSS, approximately 30% of high school students said that they had engaged in sexual intercourse and approximately 7% of middle school students reported that they had engaged in sexual intercourse.159 Of high school students, 29% of girls had engaged in sexual intercourse and 31% of the boys. Of San Francisco middle school students who said that they had engaged in sexual intercourse, approximately 5% were girls and 9% were boys. Overall, approximately 70% of students in San Francisco public high schools reported never having had sexual intercourse.160


Among high school students, 20% were currently sexually active and have had sexual intercourse during the last three months. Girls (21%) were slightly more sexually active than boys (19%).162 Over the last five years, the number of middle school students who had sexual intercourse decreased while the rate of high school students engaging in sexual activity remained fairly constant.


Birth Control

The figure below shows the type of contraception used by San Francisco public high school students during their last sexual encounter. Of those students reporting on their last sexual encounter, 55.4% of girls and 66.2% of boys used condoms.163


Among all San Francisco public high school girls who responded to the question about the method used to prevent pregnancy, 8.3% used birth control pills, 10.2% used withdrawal and 13.8% used no method.


A large majority, (72.3%), said they never had sex.164 Of all boys who responded to questions about their or their partner's use of contraception the last time they had sex, 12.9% used no method at all and 9.3% used the withdrawal method. Again, a large majority, (69.9%), said they have never had sex.165


Of the students who used protection during the last time they had sex, condoms were their choice of protection. Condoms can not only prevent pregnancy, but they can also prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.


Teen Pregnancy

One consequence of sex for girls can be pregnancy. The number of births to teen girls has been declining in San Francisco and California since the 1990s. In 2000, the number of births to teen mothers (ages 15-19) in San Francisco was approximately 456. The majority, 64%, were born to young women 18-19 years old.168 The figure below gives the number of births to teen mothers during the period from 1990 to 2000 in San Francisco and California.


The recent study No Time for Complacency: Teen Births in California noted that California achieved the largest absolute decline of all 50 states in teen birth rate reduction in the last decade. The study also noted that while Latina girls had the steepest decline, they still have the highest teen birth rate of any race or ethnic group in California.169


In 1990, 808 teens gave birth in San Francisco. In 2000, that figured dropped almost by half (56%) to 456. According to The Annie E. Casey Foundation Child Trends KIDS COUNT Special Report, San Francisco was number one among big cities in low percent of teen births.171 The percent of births to teenage mothers in San Francisco fell from approximately 8% in 1990 to 5.3% in 2000.172 Similar to San Francisco, the number of births in California to teen mothers also declined during the 1990s, but it was not as dramatic. California teen births went from 11.4% (69,560 births) in 1990 to a modest decline of 10.4% (56,373 births) during that time period.173


Figure 64 shows the number of teen births to San Francisco girls by age in the year 2000. As can be expected, the number of births was the highest for the oldest age group. There were 8 teen births in the age category of 15 and under, 30 teen mothers who were 15 years old, 48 who were 16, 82 who were 17, 147 who were 18 and 149 who were 19 years old.175


Figure 65 also shows the number of births to California teens during 2000. Much like San Francisco, as the age of the teen increased in years so did the number of births.


In San Francisco, teenage girls became parents more often than teenage boys. Studies indicate that teenage girls are often impregnated by older men (age 20 or older).177 Figure 66 shows the number of San Francisco teen mothers and fathers by age during 2000. However, the teen father rates may be unreliable as boys are likely to not be aware of their fatherhood.


Figure 67 is a breakdown of teen pregnancy by race/ethnicity from A Snapshot of Adolescent Health in San Francisco by the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Based on this snapshot more than 90% of all teen births were to women of color. The number of births was highest among Latinas.179 In 1997, 46% of all teen births in San Francisco were to Latina young women, 28% were to African American, 9% were to White, 8% were to Filipina, 5% were to other Asian or Pacific Islander, 3% were to Chinese, and 1% were to Native American or Other young women.180


The race/ethnic breakdown of San Francisco teen mothers was similar in 2000: approximately 46% Latina, 32% African American, 7% White and 15% Other.182 The San Francisco Department of Public Health reports that of the Asian/Pacific Islander teen births in 2000, the largest category was for Filipina young women.183 While overall the teen pregnancy rate in San Francisco remained unusually low, it continues to be young women of color who become pregnant at disproportionately high rates, especially Latina girls.


Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Other consequences of sexual activity are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In 2001, in San Francisco there were 5,112 cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia reported. Of these, 17% occurred in adolescents aged 15-19, of whom 75% were girls. There were very few cases of syphilis in young people in San Francisco.184 Figure 68 shows the number of San Francisco youth who reported having a sexually transmitted disease, either gonorrhea or chlamydia, in 1997-2001.


Figure 69 shows the number of cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia among San Francisco girls, ages 15- 19, between the years 1997-2001. The number of cases fluctuated for gonorrhea whereas, for chlamydia, there was a steady level of about 500 cases a year.


The STD rates over the last five years were consistently highest among African American girls. In 2001, the rate of African American girls reporting STD cases was 45%. This represents approximately 303 cases of all reported STD cases for girls (668) in San Francisco.189



As of 2002, there were approximately 25,134 reported cases of AIDS in San Francisco; 67 of these cases occurred in youth aged 0-19 years. For children under 5 years old, there were 22 cases, for 5-12 year olds there were 14 cases, and for 13-19 year olds there were 31 reported cases.190


Body Image

All their lives, girls are surrounded by media depictions of ideal American beauty, which takes its toll on girls' self-image. A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Is Miss America an Undernourished Role Model?, highlighted this effect. The obsession with thinness in contemporary society has been cited as a contributing factor for the increase in eating disorders, particularly in young women. 192 Recent studies have found that as many as 50% to 75% of adolescent girls are dissatisfied with their weight and their body image.193


Many girls slip into negative views of their bodies and then into dangerous patterns of behavior. Some of these patterns include diseases such as anorexia and bulimia. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 7 million women across the nation have some sort of eating disorder. Eating disorders tend to begin at very early ages. Approximately 86% of eating disorders begin before age 20. More specifically, 10% begin at age 10 or younger, 33% between the age of 11-15, and 43% of eating disorders begin between the ages of 16-20.194


One of the most significant categories for fitness for overall health, based on a recent study by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, is body composition. 195 Body composition is a combination of the percent of fat and body mass index (weight relative to height). California requires students to take a physical fitness test that includes body composition as a standard. In 2000-2001, San Francisco public school girls were overweight (or failed the body composition fitness zone) in 5th grade by approximately 25%, in 7th grade by 20% and in 9th grade by 16%. This, however, compares favorably with statewide averages. Approximately 26% of California girls in 5th grade were considered overweight, in 7th grade by 27% and in 9th grade by 29% (See Figure 73). There was also a gender difference. San Francisco boys were overweight at significantly higher rates than girls. San Francisco boys were overweight in 5th grade by approximately 39%, in 7th grade by 32% and in 9th grade by 22%.196


When San Francisco public high school students were asked how they felt about their body weight, 52% reported that they felt that they were not the right weight. Approximately 28% said they were slightly overweight and 4% said they were very overweight.198 Figure 74 shows the percent of girls in public high schools who described their bodies as overweight, underweight and normal.


Approximately 39% of girls and 25% of boys reported that they were overweight. Among the San Francisco high school students who were trying to change their weight, approximately 58% of girls were trying to lose weight, while only 31% of boys were (See Figures 75 and 76) trying to lose weight.200


Figures 76 shows that approximately 58% of girls were trying to lose weight despite the fact that 39% considered themselves to be overweight. This means that one out of every five public high school girls was trying to lose weight even though she did not consider herself to be overweight.202


Approximately 11% of girls reported that they had gone without food for a period of 24 hours as a way to lose weight in the past month. Only 6% of boys had tried to lose weight using this method.204 Nearly 5% of girls reported using a diet pill, powder or liquid without a doctor's advice in an effort to loose weight.205 Approximately 4% of girls compared to 1.5% of boys used diet pills or tried to vomit in an effort to loose weight.206


We also looked at how San Francisco public middle school girls viewed their weight. Almost 50% were dissatisfied with their weight, 30% felt overweight and about 20% felt underweight.207 As depicted in Figure 77, approximately 47% were trying to lose weight and 13% were trying to gain weight. Again this indicates that middle school girls in San Francisco were dieting even when they were not dissatisfied with their weight. Approximately 12% of middle school girls reported that they went without eating for 24 hours to lose weight, and almost 4% reported having taken diet pills, powders or liquids without a doctor's advice. Additionally, 3.5% reported having vomited to lose weight or keep from gaining weight.208


Approximately 60% of San Francisco public middle school girls were working on their weight, either to gain or to lose. This is also true for public middle school boys, as 48% reported working on their weight, either to gain or lose.210


Physical Fitness

California law requires that school districts administer a physical fitness test to all public school 5th, 7th and 9th graders annually. This test is given in six areas: aerobic capacity (cardiovascular endurance); body composition (percent of body fat); abdominal strength and endurance; trunk strength and flexibility; upper body strength and endurance and overall flexibility. Students must meet the minimum fitness standards for all six areas of the test to be considered fit.211


The 2001 test results for 5th, 7th and 9th graders revealed that many did not meet these requirements. Only 25% of girls in 5th grade, 34% of girls in 7th grade and 30% of girls in 9th grade met all six fitness standards. However, a majority of San Francisco girls met 5 out of the 6 standards (54% of 5th grades, 61% of 7th graders and 58% of 9th graders).212 See Figure 78 for details. The great majority of San Francisco girls do not appear to be meeting the minimum fitness standards required by the state.


Suicide and Mental Health

In the United States, suicide remains one of the main threats to the well-being of youth. While young women are more likely to attempt suicide, young men are more likely to die from suicide.214 Nationally, persons under the age of 25 years accounted for 14% of all suicides in 1999. From 1980-1997, the rate of suicides among persons 15-19 years increased by 11% and among persons 10-14 years by 109%. For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the third leading cause of death, behind unintentional injury and homicide. In 1999, more teenagers and young adults died from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke and chronic lung disease combined.215 However, suicides are often underreported. Moreover, suicide data is often mixed in with accident data and, therefore, may not be accurately represented by pure numbers.


In California, during 1991-2001, 2,038 adolescents committed suicide. Of these 22% were girls and 78% were boys.216 Statewide suicide rates were lower for girls than for boys.


Based on the 2001 San Francisco Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, 8.3% girls and 6.4% boys in San Francisco public high schools attempted suicide in the last year.220 Of the girls who reported having attempted suicide in the past year, 3.3% of them tried once, 3.7% tried two or three times, 0.6% tried four or five times and 0.7% tried six or more times.221


Similar to the make-up of those who had attempted suicide, more girls than boys reported having thoughts about suicide. Approximately 18% of high school girls and 10% of boys reported thinking about suicide, demonstrating a notable gender difference.222



Approximately 1 out of every 3 girls and 1 out of every 4 boys in San Francisco public high schools reported feeling depressed. When asked if over the previous year the students felt so sad or so helpless almost every day for a period of two weeks or more and if this feeling made them stop doing some of their usual activities, 32.8% of girls and 24.5% of boys responded yes. 223


San Francisco public middle school girls experienced depression too. They were asked, On how many days have you felt sad or depressed during the past month? Approximately 74% said they were depressed: 32% felt depressed for one-two days, 16.7% felt depressed for 3-5 days, 11.1% felt depressed for 6-9 days, 7.4% felt depressed 10-19 days, 3.7% felt depressed for 20-29 days and 4.1% of middle school girls reported that they felt depressed all month long (See Figure 81).224


We also looked at mental health service data from the San Francisco Department of Public Health. During 2000-2001, 2,425 girls aged 1-18 years received services. Of these, 40% were African American girls, 18% were Latina girls, 17% were Asian/Pacific Islander girls, 16% were White girls, 1% were Native American girls and 8% elected Other or Unknown.226


Substance Abuse

For years alcohol and drug abuse have remained major threats to young people in the United States. Much like youth all around the nation, youth in San Francisco also face many decisions about and consequences of drugs and alcohol. A recent study conducted by Columbia University's National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) reported that girls and young women who use alcohol and drugs are more likely than boys to attempt suicide.227


Alcohol Use

According to the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 16.4% of all adolescents (ages 12-17) reported that they had consumed alcohol in the month prior to taking the survey. In the same year, 10.4% reported that they had participated in binge drinking and 2.6% said they had drunk alcohol heavily in that same month.228


Based on this survey, teenage girls and boys consumed alcohol at very similar rates. In 2000, approximately 16.5% of girls and 16.2% of boys reported using alcohol. For the same year, approximately 9.6% of girls and 11.2% of boys participated in binge drinking. Similarly, 2% of girls reported heavy drinking while 2.2% of boys did.230


In California, the numbers are very similar to the national statistics. Just over 16% of all adolescents consumed alcohol in the month prior to taking the survey. An alarming 9.5%, nearly 1 in 10 juveniles, reported binge drinking.231


According to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, almost 60% of girls in San Francisco public high schools have had at least one drink of alcohol.232 Most girls who drink started between 13 and 14 years of age, and 6.9% of girls had their first drink before the age of 8 (See Figure 83).233


Approximately 1 out of 4 San Francisco public high school girls has consumed alcohol on at least ten days or more. However, 4% have consumed alcohol on at least one hundred days.235 Of public middle school students, 31.1% of girls and 31.5% of boys reported having had a drink of alcohol.236


Smoking and Other Tobacco Products

Everyday approximately 3,000 kids become regular smokers. According to a national survey, 3 out of 5 youth who try cigarettes will become daily smokers. By the age of 13, 1 out of 8 middle school students has used some form of tobacco.237


Nationally, approximately 80% of juveniles (ages 0 to 17) have used cigarettes at least once in their lifetime.238 Girls were slightly more likely to smoke cigarettes than were boys, (14.1% and 12.8% respectively).239


In San Francisco, 49% of all public high school and 25% of all public middle school students reported that they had tried cigarette smoking during their lifetime. Of San Francisco girls, 48% of public high school and 28% of public middle school girls had tried smoking.240 Eleven percent (11%) of high school girls and 8% middle school girls smoked cigarettes regularly (one or more cigarettes a day).241


Other Drugs

Nationally, the rate of illicit drug use among youths (aged 12 to 17 years) in 2002 was similar for girls (9.5%) and boys (9.8%). While boys had a slightly higher rate of marijuana use than girls (7.7% compared to 6.6%), girls were somewhat more likely to use psychotherapeutics than boys (3.3% compared to 2.7%).242


In 2001, 34% of girls and 33% of boys in San Francisco public high schools reported having tried marijuana.243 Among middle school students, 13% of girls and 12% of boys had tried marijuana.244 Of San Francisco high school girls who had tried marijuana, approximately 8% had used marijuana 1 or 2 times and approximately 26% had smoked it 3 times or more.245 Among students who had used marijuana, boys used it slightly more often than girls.


Alarmingly, 1 out of every 3 girls attending San Francisco public high school had been offered, sold or given drugs by someone while they were on school property in the year prior to taking the survey.247 For boys it was slightly higher at 39%.248


Most girls enrolled in San Francisco public high schools did not report taking drugs. However, based on the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey findings, approximately 5% of girls had tried cocaine, 1% had tried heroin, 5% had tried methamphetamines and 4% sniffed glue or inhaled sprays. Figure 84 above displays the percent of girls who tried drugs by type of drug.


In San Francisco middle schools, approximately 4% of girls reported they had tried cocaine, compared to 2% of boys. Approximately 0.5% of middle school girls reported having used a needle to inject illegal drugs into their bodies.249 To get high, 11% of girls and 7% of boys in public middle school sniffed glue or sprays.250


Safety and Violence

The San Francisco Commission and Department on the Status of Women have funded violence against women programs since 1980. While our focus has primarily been on violence against adult women, we know that violence in a young woman's life can be devastating. In 2000, we conducted a study on the lives of women and girls in San Francisco (Violence Against Women and Girls in San Francisco, Meeting the Needs of Survivors) which specifically included a review of the needs of girls. One of the main findings from the study stated:

It is critical to understand that violence against women is not a singular phenomenon but manifests itself in many forms and contexts& violence has been defined to include physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, and or financial abuse or control. Sexual assault includes rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and incest.251


The report characterizes the dimensions of violence as follows:

Violence against women and girls in contemporary U.S. society is pervasive. While the threat of violence affects all women and girls, a complex interaction of social factors may produce different experiences of violence for particular populations. These factors include economic resources and opportunities, immigrant status, and societal attitudes and prejudices regarding race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexuality.252


The study also pointed out the limitations of reported data:

Sources of data on violence against women and girls, particularly at the local level, are limited.

The rates reported do not accurately reflect the real scope of violence. Many women do not report crimes of violence, particularly if they have not sustained a physical injury, do not seek medical help or are not identified as victims of violence, or they seek medical help from private facilities and, thus, are not included in official statistics.


Violence occurs within all economic strata. However, a woman's access to resources and her economic status influence her options, perceived or real, in dealing with violence...there is a high prevalence of violence among women in poverty...The stresses associated with poverty are increasing in San Francisco, making economic empowerment even more critical in dealing with violence. The recent economic boom in the San Francisco Bay Area has made it impossible for people in the lower economic strata to afford basic, acceptable housing.253


Young women and girls are extremely vulnerable to violence and also face barriers in receiving help. Many discussions of violence among youth place greater focus on youth as offenders rather than youth as victims or survivors.254 Young women may lack the skills necessary for defending themselves and for recognizing dangerous situations or abusive relationships. And because of these vulnerabilities, they may be targeted for violence, particularly sexual assault.


They may be less likely to recognize more subtle forms of violence such as verbal and emotional abuse or sexual harassment as violence. For youth who do not have the social supports traditionally provided by family, vulnerability is increased dramatically. They lack an obvious source of assistance and guidance including role models of healthy relationships.255


Violence prevention and intervention among our young is probably the most important tool in reducing violence. ....Youth who have experienced violence are more likely to grow up to be abusers and to continue to experience abuse throughout life. Thus, prevention and intervention must address boys and young men as well.256


Domestic Violence

There are different types of violence that girls experience. Often the first exposure to violence occurs inside the home. Violence in the home is severely underreported, resulting in inaccurate data. Reported data captures only a small portion of the problem. Domestic violence exists when one partner in a relationship uses threats or violence to physically, emotionally, sexually or financially control the other partner. Domestic violence can happen to people from every background, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, education, income level, physical ability, age, sexual orientation and religion. In San Francisco, approximately 23,000 calls were made to domestic violence crisis hotlines and other domestic violence organizations during 2000-2001.257


During this period, approximately 1,347 girls between the ages of 13 to 17 accessed various violence against women agencies funded by the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women. The great majority of young women who contacted these agencies (1,267) did so for prevention and training purposes. Of these girls, 188 were African American, 573 were Asian/Pacific Islander, 126 were White (including 2 Middle Eastern women), 266 were Latina, 2 were Native American, 160 were Multi Ethnic and 32 were unknown.259


Child Abuse

According to California law, child abuse is defined as:

& physically injured by other than accidental means& subjected to willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment& abused or exploited& (and) is neglected by a parent or caretaker who fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care or supervision.260


Child abuse crosses all economic, cultural, ethnic, religious and age groups. Similar to domestic violence, child abusers are generally someone the child knows.261


The figure below shows the rate at which child abuse is reported in both San Francisco and California. Reports of child abuse investigated and confirmed by Child Protective Services in 2000 were approximately 23% or 11.1 cases per 1,000 youth in San Francisco, and approximately 22% or 12.3 cases per 1,000 youth in California. The rates increased slightly in 2001, with approximately 27% or 13.0 cases investigated for every 1,000 youth in San Francisco and approximately 22% or 12.3 cases for every 1,000 youth in California.262


The San Francisco Department of Human Services also collects data on child abuse. Child abuse includes maltreatment, physical and sexual abuse, physical, emotional and educational neglect.264 Records for 1998-2001 reflect the data contained in Figure 87.


For the period 1998-2001, there was an average of 925 substantiated and 846 inconclusive cases of abuse for girls per year.266 African American youth represent the largest racial group of child abuse cases substantially out of proportion to their population, followed by Latino, White and Asian/Pacific Islander youth.


In 2001, the racial and ethnic percents for all substantiated child abuse referrals in San Francisco were as follows: African American youth 45.3%, White 12.9%, Latino 26.4%, Asian/Pacific Islander 14.3% and Native American youth 1.1%. Inconclusive child abuse cases were represented with the following breakdown: African American youth 49%, White 12.6%, Latino 19%, Asian/Pacific Islander 19% and Native American youth 0.3%.267


Sexual Assault

Sexual assault includes sex or sexual contact using force, threats of force or situations where someone is not able to give consent. According to the Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse Resource Center (CASARC), 381 children (0 to 18 years) were referred by San Francisco General Hospital to access their services in 1998, of these 76% were girls and 24% were boys.269


In 2001, the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women conducted a needs assessment of its violence against women programs. The needs assessment found that sexual assaults against children are underreported and represent a much more significant problem than statistics indicate.270


In 1999, the CASARC had 431 cases of sexual assault involving individuals under the age of 19 years of age. Populations that are at particular risk are the undocumented, children in foster care, runaways, the developmentally and physically disabled, adolescents not attending school, homeless youth and those living in informal and unstable living arrangements.271


The Department's needs assessment also concluded as follows:

Service providers reported that children and adolescents are reluctant to report incidents of sexual assault for fear of negative repercussions such as the removal of family members, placement into foster care, disbelief that incidents occurred, revelation by friends and family that assault occurred and/or that the survivor has been sexually active, and retaliation by the perpetrator or others including gangs...Youth survivors of sexual assault reported that they were unable to access services due to a lack of transportation. This was also problematic for the physically disabled as well as the developmentally disabled. In the case of the latter, transportation presented a serious problem when the caretaker was the perpetrator of the violence. In addition, clients' inability to take off time from work and school resulted in a lack of service provision. Service providers confirmed this, stating that much of their time is being spent on re-scheduling missed appointments.272


This also revealed that youth did not necessarily utilize on-site school services for these issues. In 2000-2001, approximately 19 girls (ages 13-17) called the sexual assault crisis line funded by the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women.273


A national 2001 study, Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use,

Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality, found that dating violence amongst girls is widespread and may be higher for teens than for adult women. Approximately 1 in 5 high school girl students (20.2% in 1997 and 18.0% in 1999) reported being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.274 While studies of high school students suggest that both boys and girls inflict and receive dating violence in equal proportion, girls are more often defending themselves rather than perpetrating the violence. Thus, it is important not to assume that youth dating violence is mutual where both partners are acting violently towards each other and have equal power.275


Dating Violence

In the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, about 7% of San Francisco public high school girls replied that they had been hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose during the previous year. This type of violence increased from 6% in the 9th grade to 10% in the 12th grade.276

When asked if they had ever had sexual intercourse when they didn't want to, approximately 6% of San Francisco girls in public high school said that they had (see Figure 89).277


Girls on the Streets

Home and school are not the only places where girls experience violence. Girls often experience violence in the streets after they have become runaways. Frequently, violence in the home makes running away seem like the only viable option for young girls. Unfortunately, life on the streets, whether homeless, as a runaway or both, is also very violent and dangerous.


According to the National Runaway Switchboard, every year approximately 100,000 to 160,000 runaway and homeless youth, family members of runaway youth and others concerned about runaway youth, call their services.279 Their calls reflect just a fraction of the actual number of runaway youth in the United States.


At the Larkin Street Youth Center, a community-based outreach program for street youth, 1,950 juveniles were served in 1996-1997, of which 40% were girls. Of the total youth served, 40%-60% had engaged in prostitution. Similarly, at the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, 124 adolescents were served in 1999 and 33% were girls. The breakdown of clients by race/ethnicity is depicted in Figure 90. The majority, over 70%, of the youth served at both these programs were White.280


In 2001, 117 girls were arrested for prostitution, this number does not include girls arrested for prostitution related crimes such as loitering and drug sales.282


Safety in School

In recent years, there has been much discussion about school violence. In San Francisco, as well as all around the nation, school violence affects girls on their path to becoming women. We reviewed how San Francisco public school girls reported on violence in their lives based on the 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey. In the month prior to taking the survey, 6.5% of all high school girls reported feeling unsafe at school and missed days as follows:

" 3.6% missed 1 day

" 1.1% missed 2-3 days

" 0.1% missed 4-5 days

" 1.7% missed 6 or more days283


In 2001, 1 in 4 (22.4%) of San Francisco public high school girls reported that they had been in a physical fight in the past year. Of boys, 39% had also been in a fight, demonstrating a significant gender difference.284 When San Francisco high school girls were asked, The last time you were in a physical fight, with whom did you fight? they answered the following:

" 18.6% fought with a friend or someone they knew

" 13.7% fought with a parent, brother, or sister

" 4.1% fought with another girl

" 3.8% fought with a total stranger

" 2.4% fought with more than one of the above and

" 0.5% fought with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or a date285


Of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey respondents, approximately 5.2% of public high school girls had someone threaten or injure them with a weapon on school property during the past year.286


Safety in Middle School

In the month prior to taking the 2001 San Francisco Middle School Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, 15.7% of the public middle school girls reported feeling unsafe and missing school as a result.


Girls in middle school also reported not feeling safe on their way to or from school. The survey reported that 11.3% of girls missed school due to not feeling safe on their way to or from school.287


In 2001, approximately 38.2% of San Francisco public middle school girl students reported that they had been in a physical fight in the past year. Of boys, 54.7% had been in a fight. Again this shows a significant gender difference in middle school between boys and girls, with girls avoiding violence more often than boys.


When asked of San Francisco middle school girls, The last time you were in a physical fight, with whom did you fight? they answered the following:

" 21.4% fought with a friend or someone they knew

" 12.0% fought with a parent, brother, or sister

" 4.1% fought with another girl

" 3.7% fought with a total stranger

" 3.6% fought with more than one of the above and

" 0.8% fought with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or a date288


However, this information still demonstrates that a significant number of middle school girls and boys were involved with fights.


Harassment in High School

In the month prior to taking the 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, approximately 5.8% of San Francisco public high school students had been the victim of a verbal slur because of their gender or sexual orientation. Of the girls, 6.2% had experienced this type of harassment, while 5.5% of boys had also.289


Both high school girls and boys experienced verbal slurs directed at their weight, size or physical appearance. Approximately 24.1% of high school students surveyed had experienced a verbal slur of this type in the previous month: 26.5% of girls and 24.8% of boys.290


In the previous month before the survey, many San Francisco public high school students experienced verbal slurs about their race or ethnic background. More boys than girls experienced this harassment, 1 in 5 girls (19.1%) and 1 in 4 boys (24.8%).291


Harassment in Middle School

For San Francisco public middle school girls, approximately 6% experienced verbal slurs based on their gender or sexual orientation, 20% reported verbal slurs directed at their weight, size or physical appearance and 13% experienced verbal slurs about their race or ethnic background.293 Boys experienced harassment at approximately 5.5% based on their gender or sexual orientation, 22% based on their appearance and approximately 19% based on their race.


Homicides and Injuries

Based on data from the California Department of Health Services, San Francisco girls, unlike boys, appeared to be able to avoid being fatally or even seriously injured by others (serious is a non-fatal hospitalized injury). Younger girls (age 15 and under), have not been seriously injured by others in large numbers over the last ten years.


The following data is for all girls under the age of 21 in San Francisco, except where noted. Violent injuries include reported types of physical harm inflicted by one person on another.295

" There were 3 fatal violent injuries to girls in San Francisco in 2000 (1 White, 1 African American, and 1 Latina, all between the ages of 16-20). This compares with 7 fatal violent injuries to boys in San Francisco and with 89 total fatal violent injuries for girls in California.

" Between 1991 and 2000, there were a total of 16 fatal violent injuries to girls.

" In 2000, there were 12 non-fatal violent hospitalized injuries to girls (2 White, 4 African American, 4 Latina, and 2 Asian/Pacific Islander). There were 71 non-fatal violent hospitalized injuries for boys. For the years 1991-2000, there were a total of 195 serious injuries to girls, the majority ages 16-20. For boys during this ten-year time period, the number of serious injuries was 1,078.

" In 2000, firearm injuries accounted for 129 injuries to girls in California. The majority of the injuries were to youth between the ages of 16-20 years. Again, following the trend, boys were injured much more often than girls. At 1,340 injuries, boys suffered over 10 times the number of firearm injuries as girls. In San Francisco, non-fatal firearm injuries accounted for 26 boys and 2 girls.

" There was 1 fatal firearm injury of a girl in 2000, and 5 for boys.

" In 2000, no girls committed suicide but 37 tried. Two boys out of 20 who attempted suicide succeeded.


Throughout the safety and violence section, our research shows that girls appear to be at risk for sexual violence and boys appear to be at risk for other types of violence. Both girls and boys experience harassment in noteworthy numbers.


Criminal Justice

The San Francisco Commission and Department on the Status of Women have been studying girls and the criminal justice system for a number of years. In 1992, the Commission on the Status of Women participated with the Delinquency Prevention Commission and 40 other coalition members on a report entitled Come Into the Sun: Findings & Recommendations on the Needs of Women and Girls in the Justice System. In 1996, the Commission on the Status of Women, after a briefing on a report entitled Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Girls in the San Francisco Juvenile System, created an Out of Sight, Out of Mind Task Force. Similar to the 1992 Come Into the Sun report before it, the Out of Sight, Out of Mind report found the situation for girls in the juvenile justice system in San Francisco was grim, unfair, and continued to be in a crisis. 296


The data herein focuses on juvenile girl arrest records. For comparison we include data from other jurisdictions within the State of California and review arrest records for juvenile girls over the last decade. We also provide a snapshot of data on girls from the year 2000 that was collected by the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department.


Arrests Records

In 2000, there were approximately 3,069 juvenile arrests in San Francisco.297 Of these 1,030 were girls and 2,039 were boys. Figure 93 shows that of all arrests for 2000, girls accounted for 34% and boys accounted for 66%.298


Figure 94 is a breakdown of the type of offenses girls and boys were arrested for in San Francisco during 2000. In total, girls were arrested for 424 felonies and 592 misdemeanors. The three highest felony arrest rates for girls in San Francisco were for drugs (120), robbery (84) and assault (66).299


Figure 95 graphs the number and type of juvenile offenses by gender in San Francisco in 2000.301 Occasionally the same individual was arrested more than once in a year, creating higher arrest rates.


To put these figures into context, we compared these same figures for juvenile arrests for California. In 2000, approximately 243,090 juveniles were arrested. Of those 61,268 (25.2%) were girls and 181,822 (74.8%) were boys.303 Figures 96 and 97 show a comparison of the offenses boys and girls were arrested for in California in 2000. The number and percent (shown in the parentheses) of each offense by gender is in Figure 96.


Figure 97 depicts the above chart using percents by gender. Other than status offenses (a violation of the law that would not be a violation if committed by an adult), California girls are most often arrested for burglaries, assaults and thefts. California girls accounted for 25.8% of all youth misdemeanor arrests and 17% of all youth felony arrests in 2000.305


Figures 98 and 99 show the percent of girls arrested for juvenile offenses in California and San Francisco by specific offenses. In each category, San Francisco girls were arrested on average at a higher percent for each type of offense compared to girls in California. In San Francisco, 24.3% of all robbery arrests were for girls, while in California only 10.6% of all robbery arrests were for girls. Of all youth burglary arrests in California, 18.1% were for girls, but in San Francisco, twice as many, (38%) of all arrests were girls. Another big difference between California and San Francisco was the number of drug offenses committed by girls. In San Francisco, 33.7%, twice as many drug arrests were for girls than in California, where girls accounted for only 16.3% of drug arrests.307


To compare this data to other California jurisdictions, we give figures for the counties of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Alameda (Oakland and other Alameda County cities) and Santa Clara (San Jose and other Santa Clara cities). For these jurisdictions in every single category listed with the exception of status offenses, San Francisco girls had the highest percent of youth arrests. For robberies, the percent of female arrests was lowest in Santa Clara County at 6.6% and highest in San Francisco at 24.3%. For drugs, the low was Alameda at 9.9%, followed closely by Los Angeles at 11.7%, and again a high in San Francisco at 33.7%. San Francisco girls were arrested for 28.3% of all felony arrests vs. Los Angeles girls at 15.5%. A similar pattern exists for misdemeanors with San Francisco girls at a high of 38.6% vs. Los Angeles girls only getting arrested for 22.5% of the youth misdemeanors.310


Historic Portrait

We researched long-term trends to develop a portrait of what was happening with girls' arrest records in San Francisco. We reviewed the last decade of statistics collected by the California Bureau of Justice.


The overall serious crime rate has fallen for youth. In 1992, the serious juvenile offense rate was 44.4 per 1,000 youth. In 1999, it was 26.1 per 1,000 youth.312 San Francisco girls do not appear to be following this pattern. While there was a steep decline among boys arrested for felonies during the last decade in San Francisco, there was a steady increase in the number of girls arrested for felonies. Figure 101 shows the number of boys and girls in San Francisco who were arrested for felonies between the years 1991-2000. In 1991, 276 girls were arrested for felonies. In 2000, that figure rose by 53% to 424. At the same time, boys arrested for felonies fell almost by half (49%) from 2,123 in 1991 to 1,076 in 2000.313


The misdemeanor arrest rate for boys dropped 46% over the last decade, but the rate for girls' misdemeanor arrests declined moderately by 15%. In 1991, the number of girls arrested for misdemeanors was 707, and in 2000 it was 599. Figure 104 shows the number of juvenile arrests for misdemeanors in San Francisco during this time period by gender.


Law Violations

The following research looks at the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department statistics for 2000. This data varies slightly from the information gathered from the California State Bureau of Justice. The State of California records and the City and County of San Francisco records have slightly different numbers due to variations in data collection practices. The San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department includes data on 18 and 19 year olds within its jurisdiction, and they also give additional details for a variety of offenses and dispositions.


Figure 105 below shows the number and age of girls in San Francisco who were arrested or cited for law violations in 2000. Law violation data tracks the number of youth brought (usually by law enforcement), but not necessarily admitted to Juvenile Hall, or mandated to be seen by a Probation Officer.318 Girls (ages 14-17) were the vast majority of those arrested or cited. Of the total girls' arrests or citations in 2000 (1,343), 16 and 17 year-old girls accounted for roughly 1 out of every 4 (25.9% and 24.6% respectively) incidents.319


In San Francisco, the race/ethnicity of girls referred to the Juvenile Probation Department for law violations is recorded.321 The race/ethnicity breakdown of the 1,343 girls who were arrested or cited in 2000 was as follows: 57.1% African American, 13.9% White, 13.6% Latina, 11.3% Asian/Pacific Islander, and less than 1% Native American.322 Figures 106 and 107 show the breakdown of race/ethnicity of this group of girls.


For a further breakdown of the 11.3% of Asian/Pacific Islander girls cited or arrested in 2000, see Figure 108 below. There were a disproportionate number of African American girls being arrested or cited in San Francisco relative to their total population. While African American girls make up 12.5% of the 10-17 year old girls in San Francisco, they accounted for over half (57.1%) of the girls being arrested or cited for law violations in 2000.327 For a graphic comparison of female race/ethnicity populations for this age group versus the race/ethnicity of the girls referred for law violations, see Figure 109.328


For law violation referrals, the decision about whether a youth is actually detained is made by the on-duty Intake Probation Officer, according to a set of standardized criteria. The Court System then reviews this decision within 72 hours.


Detention Referrals

The San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department collects and provides information on girls who received detention referrals according to geographical location. Referral to Detention represents the number of youth admitted to Juvenile Hall, most often having been brought to Juvenile Hall by law enforcement.330


In 2000, the number of overall detention referrals given to girls in San Francisco was 735 (see Figure 110).331


Forty-three and two tenths percent (43.2%) of the girls receiving detention referrals were from unknown areas or outside of San Francisco. Of these girls, 25.8% were from Oakland (see Figure 111). The Bayview neighborhood accounted for the largest percent of female detention referrals within San Francisco (17.7%), followed by the Western Addition (9.8%) and the Outer Mission (8.9%).


Figure 112 states the number and percent of detention referrals for San Francisco girls by race and ethnicity for 2000.334 The trend of disproportional minority representation in the juvenile justice system holds true for girls in relation to detention. A similar trend appears for African American girls who are 12.5% of the 10-17 year old girl population, but make up 61.4% of the girl detention referrals.335


For a further breakdown of Asian/Pacific Islander girls' detention referrals, see Figure 113 below. Figure 112 shows that the number of referrals given to African American girls in 2000 was considerably above all the other categories combined (451 African American girls vs. 284 all other female detentions combined). In 2000, Latina girls were given 13.9% of the detention referrals and Asian/Pacific Islander girls received 8.7% of the referrals. In 2000, White girls received 14.8% of the detention referrals.



A gender analysis, as required by the San Francisco CEDAW Ordinance, begins with the collection of disaggregated data. It then looks for positive trends for best practices and negative trends which require corrective action. By pulling together available data on girls specific to San Francisco, we have begun the gender analysis process and have provided indicators of how girls are being served.


Similar to the first time a country reports to the United Nations, as required by the CEDAW treaty, this initial girls' report is intended to be a detailed and comprehensive description of the status of girls in San Francisco. It is meant to provide a benchmark against which subsequent progress can be measured.


Having a single resource for information about girls rather than a myriad of different agencies, each with their own data collection methods, makes this information easily accessible to a wider group of policy makers and service providers. It also helps those who serve and develop policy about girls and young women to better understand this population and to have a greater impact. Moreover, it will save time as currently each agency looking for data must conduct its own research. With this report, community organizations will have an easily accessible resource for information about girls.


This report on San Francisco girls confirms the phenomenon identified as disproportionality, which means that minority youth are disproportionately represented in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. This holds true for minority girls in San Francisco, pointing to a clear need to review existing services available and their effectiveness for this population of girls. These two systems need to work together to coordinate services and resources if this phenomenon is to be turned around.


The Report on Girls in San Francisco, Benchmarks for the Future is only a first step to help us evaluate progress and gauge future assessments. We hope this research provides a catalyst for change, a stimulus for policy research and implementation and, finally, that is becomes a tool to inform San Franciscans about their girls and young women. As this it the first broad report focused on girls in San Francisco, we welcome feedback from the public at large and public officials about this and future reports.



" Arizona State University, Education Policy Studies Laboratory <>

" California Bureau of Justice, Department of the Attorney General <>

" California Center for Public Health Advocacy <>

" California Department of Education, Educational Demographics Office


" California Department of Health Services, Epidemiology and Prevention for Injury Control Branch


" California Department of Social Services, Child Welfare Services <>

" California Employment Development Department <>

" Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice <>

" Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) <>

" Child Welfare League of America <>

" Child Welfare Research Center <>

" Children Now <>

" City and County of San Francisco, Planning Department <http://www.planning/>

" City and County of San Francisco, Board of Supervisors <http://www.bdsupvrs/>

" City and County of San Francisco, Department of Children, Youth and Their Families


" City and County of San Francisco, Juvenile Probation Department


" City and County of San Francisco, Mayor's Office on Homelessness


" City and County of San Francisco, Department of Public Health <>

" City and County of San Francisco, Department of Human Services


" Journal of the American Medical Association <>

" Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC) <>

" National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders <>

" National Center for Juvenile Justice <>

" Northern California Council for the Community <>

" United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention


" Public Health Institute, Center for Research on Adolescent Health and Development


" City and County of San Francisco, San Francisco Housing Authority <http://sfha/>

122 A Report on Girls in San Francisco

" San Francisco Unified School District <>

" State of California, Department of Health Services <>

" The Annie E. Casey Foundation <>

" United States Department of Health and Human Services, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Services Administration (SAMHSA) <>

" United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics <>

" United States Census Bureau <>

" United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families


" University of California at Berkeley, School of Public Health <>

" University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Work <>