Friday, November 10, 2006

"Bad Girls" in the news again

Girls often make the news when something goes wrong and the Bad Girls phenomena is nothing new. I graduated from a Baltimore City high school in the 1980's when Baltimore had the highest teen aged pregnancy rate in the country. I have seen the Bad Girls phenomena take many forms.

Here a story covered on Oct 31 by the NY Daily News was also picked up by City Limits focuses on when girls are violent. Here is the article. More commentary to follow this weekend:

'Bad girl' statistics get worse
34.3% rise in females in juvenile detention
BY FRANK LOMBARDI and CARRIE MELAGODAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Tatianna McDonald, then a 14-year-old sixth-grader, was among the pack of teens that mugged actress Nicole duFresne before she was murdered on the lower East Side in January 2005.
More city schoolgirls are landing in juvenile detention now than a decade ago - while crime among boys is dropping, a new report reveals.
Last year, 1,037 girls younger than 16 entered city detention facilities, up from 772 in 1992, according to the report by the Citizens' Committee for Children.
The 34.3% increase came as the number of boys admitted by the city's Department of Juvenile Justice fell 30%, 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.
"There is a lot of victimization leading to this," said CCC boss Gail Nayowith.
"Whether physical, sexual or emotional," she said, "[it] can sometimes be the first step to lead them to delinquency."
Other advocates say 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, author of "Beyond Bad Girls" and a criminologist at the University of Hawaii. "Now we're relabeling them and detaining them."
Dr. Herbert Mandell, medical director for the charity KidsPeace, blamed a "breakdown in some of the supports in the community and home."
He told the Daily News, "Girls just aren't getting the kind of protection from dad, older brother, siblings and schools as they used to, and that's very sad."
Media images of aggressive women, like Angelina Jolie's characters in "Tomb Raider" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," may also fuel combative behavior.
"Anybody who grows up with a television at home sees more violence ... than I did growing up," said Heather Nicholson, research director of Girls Inc.
In recent years, the city has seen several high-profile crimes committed by young girls, including the horrifying 2005 murder of 11-year-old Queenie Washington by a 9-year-old playmate.
At a City Council hearing on the problem yesterday, Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Neil Hernandez testified that there is a strong connection between domestic violence and juvenile crime.
The CCC report calls the increase in female juvenile criminals a "quiet crisis" and urges officials to conduct a citywide assessment to collect more data on the girls.
"We need to find out what's going on with these girls, why they are getting into trouble," Nayowith said.
"We need to understand what their needs are." Originally published on October 31, 2006

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