In The Know Zone

school violence in girls

Are Girls Violent Too?

Blurring the distinction between the styles of aggression attributed to each gender are reports—perhaps somewhat misleading—of a marked increase in the violent acts committed by girls, and in anecdotal evidence of increased physical bullying and confrontations among girls.

In the decade leading up to the turn of the century, arrests of girls increased 50.3 percent, while arrests of male teens rose by only 16.5 percent. [18] Arrests of girls for serious violent offenses increased by 64.3 percent and arrests for “other assaults” by girls more than doubled at 125.4 percent during the same period. [19]

The spike in girl violence may be somewhat more apparent than real.  Surveys in which girls reported their own levels of violent behavior always showed a higher incidence than arrest records for such offenses indicated.  It may be that girls are simply being arrested today for behavior that might formerly have been dealt with outside the justice system. [20] Keeping the matter in perspective, despite the resounding increases, violence figures in less than four percent of misdeeds for which girls are arrested. [21]

The increased incidence of physical bullying and fighting by girls has been the subject of numerous news stories, both print and broadcast, but hard statistics on the subject are sparse.  One survey of 15,000 teenagers in 2000 found that 60 percent of all girls—and 75 percent of all boys—said they had hit someone in anger within the previous 12 months. [22]

If the genesis of most youth violence lies in dysfunctional homes and neighborhoods, the trigger for many of its incidents is a lack of civility among teens.  In a nationwide series of meetings with groups of teenagers, researchers with the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) found that teens blamed an atmosphere of bullying, “dissing,” harassment and shunning for much of the problem. [23]

Violence is every bit as much a problem for the young as it is of the young.  The chance of becoming a victim of violent crime is five times greater for those aged 12 to 24 than it is for adults over 35, [24] and the great majority of crimes by juveniles are committed against juveniles. [25]

[18] Chesney-Lind, M; Are Girls Closing the Gender Gap in Violence?; in Criminal Justice Magazine, Vol. 16, Issue 1, Spring, 2001, American Bar Association. Available at; accessed 28 July 2004

[19] Ibid, p. 1

[20] Weiler, J; Girls and Violence, ERIC Digest No. 143, 1999, available at;  accessed 2 September, 2004

[21] Ibid, p. 1

[22] 2000 Report Card #1The Ethics of American Youth: Violence and Substance Abuse, Data & Commentary,  The Josephson Institute of Ethics, 2001, available at;  Accessed 2 September 2004

[23] Horn, D; Bruised Inside: What Our Children Say About Youth Violence; The National Association of Attorneys General; 2000; p. 1. available at;  accessaed 30 July 2004.

[24] Ibid., p. 1

[25] McCurley, C and Snyder, H; Victims of Violent Juvenile Crime; Juvenile Justice Bulletin, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2004; available at; Accessed 9 August 2004


In The Know: At Risk Pamphlet/ DVD Package
In The Know: At Risk DVD Package