'American free-enterprise, capitalist democracy and the right to make as much money as you can and spend it
any way you choose (as long as there's no law against it :-)' has made it
possible - consumerism advancing, for (a)
children having virtually anything they want any time they want it, (b) parents
buying them 'out of their hair' by giving it to them, (c) the media occupying
their idle-mind time with mind-fucking MTV and FX/films that most children
today, even those somehow surviving the dumbing-down, have grown
Nathan Denette / Guelph Mercury
June 13, 2005 Newsweek Magazine
June 13 issue - When police arrived on the scene of a fatal stabbing last week
in Brooklyn, N.Y., they were stunned by what they saw. The victim, an 11-year-
old girl, lay crumpled on the floor, the front of her "Dora the Explorer" T
shirt bloodied. The weapon, a steak knife, was in the kitchen sink. And the
perpetrator, visibly upset and clinging to her mother, police say, was a little
girl in a ponytail, only 9 years old. A few days later, she stood in white
socks and shiny black dress shoes before a judge, listening as her lawyer
entered a plea of not guilty.
The tragic event, which took place after the girls came to blows over a pink
rubber ball, was a sad reminder that children can possess the same brutal
instincts as adults. But for experts on youth crime, the killing was another
instance of what they view as a burgeoning national crisis: the significant
rise in violent behavior among girls. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime
Report, the number of girls 10 to 17 arrested for aggravated assault has
doubled over the last 20 years. The number of boys arrested for weapons
possession rose 22 percent between 1983 and 2003, while the number of girls
increased by a whopping 125 percent. Today, one in three juveniles arrested for
violent crimes is female. "Girls are not what people think they are," says Dr.
Howard Spivak, director of Tufts University Center for Children and coauthor of
a new book, "Sugar and Spice and No Longer Nice: How We Can Stop Girls'
Violence." "The change in girls' behavior is overwhelming."
A quick look at recent headlines is overwhelming indeed. On April 20, a 17-year-
old from Lexington, Mass., allegedly slashed open the neck and face of another
girl with a bottle of Twisted Tea. The next day, three teenage girls in Ayden,
N.C., were charged with first-degree murder for participating in a drive-by
shooting that left a 10-year-old boy dead. On May 3, a 17-year-old from Chicago
was stabbed in her left breast and right armpit; a 16-year-old female classmate
has been charged. And the teen daughter of former "Law & Order" star Dianne
Wiest was recently arrested in Manhattan with two girlfriends for allegedly
roughing up a male classmate and stealing his iPod. A court hearing is
Schoolyards, where boy bullies once reigned supreme, are increasingly arenas
for skirmishes between girls. "There are actually more physical girl fights now
than between boys," says Bill Bond, a former school principal in Paducah, Ky.,
who travels the country studying safety issues for the National Association of
Secondary School Principals. "I was just on a Cheyenne reservation yesterday
and the principal said he had had one fight this year between boys and six
between girls." Jennifer Clayton, 14, was beaten up in May by three other girls
as she walked home from her school in Guelph, Ont. "I could hear them saying,
'Punch her in the face'," she told the local newspaper.
Jennifer Orangio, the 18-year-old slashing victim in Massachusetts, says that
when she came upon her boyfriend hanging out with an ex in the school parking
lot, the heat of her own reaction took her by surprise. Orangio went up to the
other girl, Jamie Pelletier, and pushed her. Pelletier "threatened to smash a
bottle over my head ... I was, like, 'Go ahead, do it!' And she did it."
Pelletier, 17, now faces felony charges of assault and battery with a dangerous
weapon (to which she pleaded not guilty). She declined to comment.
Part of this spike in violence is related to evolving sex roles. Historically,
boys have received messages from the culture that connect masculinity with
physical aggression, while girls received opposite messages, encouraging
passivity and restraint. Now girls are barraged with images of "sheroes"—think
Sydney Bristow on ABC's "Alias" or Uma Thurman's the Bride in "Kill Bill: Vol.
2"—giving them a wider range of role models and tacit permission to alter their
behavior. Accordingly, says Spivak, some girls have "shifted from internalizing
anger to striking out."
The women's movement, which explicitly encourages women to assert themselves
like men, has unintentionally opened the door to girls' violent behavior. "I
was at a JV lacrosse game, watching my granddaughter. We cheered like hell
because she was being aggressive on the field," says Joan Jacobs Brumberg,
professor of history, human development and gender studies at Cornell. "I don't
want to blame women's liberation for violence among girls," cautions Brumberg,
but "traditional femininity and passivity are no longer valued in young
females." James Garbarino, professor of human development at Cornell, puts it
more bluntly. "We rely on boys to get out there and block a football, go in the
Army and defend the country, carry guns and be cops. One of the side effects is
that some boys take [physical aggression] too far." Now that girls have the
same opportunities, he says, they can encounter the same blurry boundaries.
Research suggests that the best predictor of violent behavior, however—for
girls and for boys—is not hours logged playing videogames or competitive
pressure, but firsthand exposure to violent behavior. And social scientists
warn that the number of children who see guns, fights and other kinds of
physical abuse on a day-to-day basis is on the rise. "Violence in girls, like
violence in boys, is really rooted in the individual and the individual's
situation. I don't think you can blame the culture entirely for this
phenomenon," says Brumberg.
After Ella Speight's 17-year-old daughter was attacked by a 16-year-old
classmate last month, she spent hours in the hospital, tending to her child.
Speight says she isn't angry: she prays for the assailant and even embraced the
girl's mother when they met in court. "My heart hurts for her family," says
Speight. "I know her mother didn't send her out to do that." Sugar and spice
and everything nice: maybe Speight's forgiving nature represents an ideal that
even boys can aim for.
With William Lee Adams
inured to 'having fun', daring, hubris (violence) and 'trashing when things
don't go your way' -'easy come, easy go', everyone a 'wannabe'. It was only a matter of time before the
money-making, mind-fucking technology that once infected only the latent adult
went on to envelope all males down to little boys -only a matter of time then,
girls and boys intellectually 'homogenizing', before girls too would rise to
boys' 'expertise' in 'not taking any shit'.
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