NZ Herald 16 Nov 2011
A punching bag has become the most popular therapy for an agency trying to help New Zealand girls with mounting levels of anger and violence. The Wellington-based Skylight Trust, founded in 1998 to help young people cope with grief, says it is seeing more and more anger as girls and boys turn against whoever they blame for traumatic events.
And a two-year study of 3400 year 9 and 10 students in 24 schools in the upper South Island has found “a climate of violence” in which “relational aggression, including sexual harassment and racial harassment, is commonplace and viewed as normalised behaviour”. Study author Dr Donna Swift said the age of girls involved in violence was dropping. “I talk to parents of preschoolers whose girls are punching each other and making comments about friend relationships,” she said. Nationally, police apprehensions of girls for “acts intended to cause injury” have almost doubled in the past 16 years, from seven to 12.3 per 1000 girls in the 14-16 age group, while apprehensions of boys have been stable at between 18 and 20 per 1000 boys.