Young girls’ share of violence is on the rise, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Of 18 pending cases in the King County School Violence Program, seven involve girl-on-girl attacks. Reports last week that three Mount Vernon middle-school girls jumped a schoolmate and beat her senseless at a dance for honor students left one official stunned. “Maybe it’s sexist,” he said. “Maybe girls like the ones I’m seeing are just challenging my assumptions that young women shouldn’t be threatening each other with brass knuckles, but it troubles me. A lot.”
“We have seen an uptick in violent behavior — fighting — among girls,” said Catherine Carbone, spokeswoman for the Highline school district. “In the last five or 10 years, the same kinds of things that have always caused taunts or teasing before, now are more physical.” While juvenile crime rates are down across the country, the gap is narrowing between boys — who still commit the vast majority of violent offenses — and girls, previously assumed to handle stress by withdrawing into depression.
In 2001, arrests for aggravated assault among girls were up 82 percent over 1987 levels, while for boys they rose 9 percent, according to the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
“In our intake, they used to be all boys. Now it’s about 50-50,” said Elizabeth McCauley of Seattle’s Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center. “We are seeing more girls who are exhibiting their distress by being aggressive. I don’t think we totally understand why.”