Saturday, February 25, 2006

Why Girls Hit! - Sugar and Spice and No Longer Nice!

No Place for Hate Committee in cooperation with the Harwich Youth Commission, Sheila House, Youth Counselor and other caring church groups and educators would like to sponsor a book discussion in April or May! In an ongoing campaign to help our town deal with issues of race and hate, we must also see what going on in our daily lives which needs to be examined carefully. Childhood Bullying, Teasing, and Violence: What school personnel, professionals, and parents , and peers can do and must do.
Books will be for sale. Do you want to help. Please call John at (508) 432-9256 or Sheila House (508) 430-7836

Book #1
James Garbarino, Ph.D., See Jane Hit! Why girls are growing more voilent and what can be done about it!

Book #2
James Gabarino, Ph. D. and Ellern de Lara, Ph.D.
And Words Can Hurt Forever: How to Protect Adolescents from Bullying, Harassment, and Emotional Violence

Book #3
Sugar and Spice and No Longer Nice!Sugar and Spice and No Longer Nice: How We Can Stop Girls' Violence
Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Howard R. Spivak
ISBN: 0-7879-7571-0
208 pages
May 2005

Michelle joined a gang because she felt she really had no choice. Unlike her sister, Michelle chose to take the same initiation as the boys (jumping in), rather than getting rolled in (having sex with all the male members of her gang's brother gang). She chose to rob a liquor store. She carried a gun to make it easy. The person behind the counter didn't cooperate, things got out of hand, and she did shoot.

Getting out of Ohio had always been her dream. Now she'll probably be old and gray by the time she's finished spending a life sentence here. Michelle's story evokes a disturbing trend documented in a new book, Sugar & Spice and No Longer Nice: How We Can Stop Girls' Violence (Jossey-Bass, 2005). Girls and young women are increasingly turning to physical violence to solve their problems and to gain social acceptance.

"In the past, girls who were feeling angry, hurt, or depressed tended to turn those feelings inward," explains Deborah Prothrow-Stith, associate dean for faculty development at HSPH and professor of public health practice. "Now, we are seeing a pattern where they are more likely to act out aggressively. There is an attitude among them that they need to be like boys-you need to give it and take it just like the boys-when the reality is that violence is a poor choice for either gender."

A violence prevention expert, Prothrow-Stith co-authored the book with Howard Spivak, chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the New England Medical Center in Boston. Last year, the two penned Murder Is No Accident: Understanding and Preventing Youth Violence in America.

Anyone who watched the popular movie Mean Girls last year may be inclined to assume that girls' aggression is largely limited to bullying, name-calling, and social isolation. While these are serious problems in their own right, the pattern identified by Prothrow-Stith and Spivak is even more disconcerting. Arrest rates for girls for aggravated assault went up 57 percent from 1990 to 1999. Weapons possession arrest rates for girls jumped 44 percent during the same time period.

According to the book:

1900: 1 in 50 juveniles arrested for ALL crimes was a girl.

1975: 1 in 5 juveniles arrested for ALL crimes was a girl.

2000: 1 in 4 juveniles arrested for VIOLENT crimes only was a girl.

2003: 1 in 3 juveniles arrested for VIOLENT crimes only was a girl.

To help explain the trend in part, Prothrow-Stith and Spivak point to what they call the feminization of the superhero. Movies, comic books, video games, television shows, and web sites have all shown an uptick in the presentation of female characters who rely as much-if not more so-on their own brawn or on weapons as they do on their brains. Not meaningfully depicted are the more practical implications of such violence: debilitating injuries and loss of lives. The result is that girls are becoming socialized similarly to boys in messages that confuse violence with empowerment, say the authors.

There are other major risk factors, the same for boys and girls: gun availability, poverty, alcohol and drug use, biological factors, witnessing violence and victimization, and social and cultural influences.

To help parents steer children away from violence, Prothrow-Stith and Spivak have developed a model they call the ART of parenting:

A: Act as a role model-do rather than tell; demonstrate rather than dictate

R: Reach out to others-build a community of caring adults around your child

T: Talk and listen-communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more

"All of our children-boys and girls-deserve a chance to learn how to be assertive and successful without resorting to violence or aggression and without fear of becoming victims themselves," said Prothrow-Stith. "If learned, those lessons will hold true from the time they are kids on the playground to the time they are adults, raising children of their own."


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