2006: NEW RESEARCH: More girls are being arrested, and that's skewing perceptions. "From 1980 to 2003, the UCR data show that the percentage of girls arrested for assault (combined figures for aggravated assault and simple assault) rose from 20 percent to more than 30 percent; the NCVS victimization data show up-and-down swings over the same period but with the female-to-male percentage of assaults averaging about 22 percent in both the 1980s and 1990s. The female percentage was 20 percent in1980 and 19 percent in 2003." READ HERE.

In 1998, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary reported on their study, Young Women Who Use Violence. "Alarmed by media reports and politicians who claim that violence among young women is skyrocketing, we initiated a study conducted over the summer that looks at the myths and facts around young women's use of violence. The following myths and facts are presented in the report and in an accompanying fact sheet."

MYTH: Violence committed by young women is skyrocketing.

FACT:  Female involvement in violent youth crime is at its lowest level in five years.  Male violence is much more prevalent and, in terms of raw numbers, increasing much more. (Female violence accounts for 0.007% of all violations under the criminal code.  Young female offenders commit 3.83% of all violent crime.  Increases in female violent crime rate are due to an increase in the reporting of crime, an increase in the willingness to identify and prosecute, and the increased female population.)

MYTH:  Violence by young women is becoming more violent.

FACT:  Serious violent offences by young women have gone down in the last 30 years.  (Quantitatively, young women are actually less violent than they were 30 years ago. Serious violent crime committed by women, as a proportion of all violent crime, has actually gone down by half from 1965 to 1995.  88% of all female violent crime is non-sexual simple assault)

MYTH:  Women's Liberation brought about an increase in female violence.

FACT:  This belief is part of a backlash.  Women's struggle for equality has not yet been realised and is certainly not reflected in the lifestyles or behaviour of women who use violence.  (Women who use violence are marginalized.  Than have suffered a history of abuse and likely emulate their abusers and abuse themselves.  The language of gender equality has been appropriated by the mainstream and used to facilitate this backlash.  Incidences involving young women are being handled more formally now.  If women want equality, as far as the enforcement of criminal justice is concerned, they've got it!)

MYTH:  It is not appropriate for girls to use violence; aggression is a male characteristic.  When girls use violence they are acting like boys.

FACT:  No gender has a monopoly on a human emotion.  It is unhealthy to restrict the range of emotions young women may feel.  (The female gender roles deny the use of anger, yet it is a powerful and potentially useful emotion.  A lack of acceptable ways to express anger and aggression result in the internalization of anger and rampant self harm.  50 - 100% of young women at risk engage in self injuring behaviour.)

MYTH:  Poor parenting, meaning working mothers and lack of discipline, cause young women to use violence.

FACT:  Working mothers do not cause young women to use violence.  Histories of abuse, most often by men do.  (Studies have found young women from homes with working mothers are no more likely to use violence than those who are not.  Most women who use violence experienced abuse in the home.  24% of young women who use violence have been sexually abused. Violence by young women is often used to prevent further victimization.  Young women who know the reality of abuse may find that a good offense is often the best defense.)

MYTH:  There is a gang problem with young women.

FACT:  There is not a gang problem with young women.  (There is an extremely low level of organized gang activity in Calgary.  Youth from racially visible groups and lower income homes are more likely to be labeled a gang without merit.  If young women do experience gangs it is usually as a victim within a male gang.)

The above information comes from the fact sheet which is based on the research project on Young Women Who Use Violence, by Heather Schramm of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary, 1998.  

Copies are available from the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary, Suite 650, 1010 - 1st Street S.W., Calgary, Alberta, T2R 1K4.  

Information from this project may be reproduced only if properly cited.  The e-mail address for E. Fry is  Inquiries should be directed to Pam Krause, Brenda Wadey or Anne McGrath,

MYTH:  The causes of young women's violence are unknown.

FACT:  We know what the risk factors are: extreme poverty, abuse, emotional abandonment, harsh punishments, lax parenting monitoring, learning disabilities. Another consistent corollary is girls' enduring a long separation from their mothers in early childhood.

See Violent Girls Rarely Receive the Help They Need, by Michele Landsberg TORONTO STAR Jan.19, 2002. p.L1


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