Danger in ignoring violence in girls

Stuff.co.nz 12 May 2012
New Zealand ignores the increasing violence among teenage girls at their peril – because these are the mothers of the next generation, says Dr Donna Swift. The Nelson-based social anthropologist is the author of a two-year research project, The Girls’ Project, which investigated violent and anti-social young women in her region. “We need to recognise that these young girls are going to be the mothers of the next generation,” Dr Swift told the Taranaki Daily News. Following on from the investigation, Dr Swift’s aim now is to put a halt to the cycle of violence by sharing her knowledge throughout the country.

….Dr Swift says New Zealand lacks programmes and understanding of girls that are gender-specific, gender-responsive and trauma-informed. In translation, Dr Swift says money needs to be put into developing programmes which will specifically address girls’ violence in the knowledge that the reasons girls are violent is radically different from boys. Currently, programmes on how to deal with teen violence are aimed at boys, who make up 70 per cent of offenders who come to the attention of police. But the project revealed there was a definite increase in more aggressive behaviour in girls and that they were becoming violent at a younger age. Girls were modelling themselves on the “kick-ass” sexualised and aggressive female role models glorified in the media, she said.