Front Page News In South Carolina: “Girl Violence On The Rise In Schools”

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Here is an excerpt from a story by Devon Marrow published on 2006-10-16, Page A1, in The State newspaper (Columbia, SC):

Girls today, according to national crime statistics, are more violent than girls of two or three decades ago.

The statistics show:

• A rise in aggravated assault arrests

• Girls account for about a quarter of assaults by juveniles. In 1980, it was less than 10 percent.

• About 75 percent of the time, the victims are other girls.

In South Carolina the numbers are about the same, according to the latest available figures tracking school crime. Girls account for 28 percent of violent crime arrests.

Naturally the explanation provided for this is as one might expect:

WHY GIRLS FIGHT

Waldrop said she has had one fight this year involving girls. The two were fighting over a boy, which officials said was also the case in the White Knoll incident.

“Boys by far have always been trigger points for violence,”said Kimberly Blanchard, executive director for the Augusta Chapter of Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization offering outreach programs to girls.

“I don’t know (why) students have turned to (arguing and violence) as opposed to turning around and walking away,”Blanchard said.

Experts cite a mix of factors. Today’s girls, unlike girls of three decades ago, are encouraged to be competitive and confrontational.

I suspect at least part of the change is that violence is officially addressed more quickly than it used to be, so there is more reporting of incidents that might have been previously ignored. The reason this was front page news is doubtlessly because girls are supposed to be relentlessly nonviolent, and any deviation from this gendered norm is a Serious Social Problem. I don’t condone violence at all, but I think this kind of sensationalist reporting is sexist and wrong. Statistically hanging around a group of girls is still a whole lot safer than hanging around a group of boys, but of course the article doesn’t mention that!

–Ann Bartow

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