More New York City schoolgirls are landing in juvenile detention now than a decade ago, while crime among boys is dropping, says a report by the Citizens’ Committee for Children quoted by the New York Daily News. Last year, 1,037 girls younger than 16 entered city detention facilities, up from 772 in 1992. The 34.3 percent increase came as the number of boys admitted by the city’s Department of Juvenile Justice fell 30 percent, from 5,769 to 4,023.
Experts blamed the spike among girls on many things, from increases in family violence and female aggression to violent images in the media. The rise could be partially because authorities and parents are more willing to prosecute young females than in decades past. “Before we would have called them incorrigible,” said Meda Chesney-Lind, a criminologist at the University of Hawaii. “Now we’re relabeling them and detaining them.” Dr. Herbert Mandell of the charity KidsPeace, blamed a “breakdown in some of the supports in the community and home.” Media images of aggressive women, like Angelina Jolie’s characters in “Tomb Raider” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” may also fuel combative behavior.