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Increases in Female Aggression in America

Updated on June 6, 2013

Violence Up In Grades K-12

The incidence of violence in schools and in other public and private places fluctuates in America and groups of people have plenty of other groups to blame. Various interests blame society, television and video game violence, lack of enough gun control, mental illness, handicapped economy, illegal drugs, and even "Women's Liberation." A good example in summer 2013 was the Jodi Arias murder case. People chose up sides and became nraged that others did not agree with them, whether their stance was that she was an abused woman fighting back or a mentally ill woman that killed out of obsession. We may never know the full answer in the Arias case. We do know some things about public schools --

In Public Health research back in the early 1990s, my team found that in the greater metropolitan area of our work, including the suburbs whose schools achieved higher scores overall on standardized testing of all kinds and at grade levels, the Number One Challenge reported by instructional staff in schools K-12 and daycare centers was VIOLENCE. Character building curricula did not stop it. Police Officers stationed in some schools did seem to reduce incidents of violence in those schools, but not enough, according to teachers, aides, staff, parents, and kids. One elementary school teacher's solution was to diagnose her entire class with ADHD (teachers were permitted to diagnoses and manage meds in that school system at that time) and require each child to be 1) medicated and 2) all physical activity (exercise was "disruptive" and "violent"). That did not work, either.

In the 2010s, we heard about widespread bullying of special needs students by some current female teachers and aides in the same school systems. Violence changes positions and changes operations, but still carries on. In addition, Girls are catching up to boys. Rather violent gangs of girls emerged here in the 1990s as well.

See Jane Hit. I think it was bound to happen.

If violent scenes - and experiences of bullying - enter eyes, ears, and minds of youth frequently, over long enough periods of time, they come back out their mouths, fists, and other weapons of choice. These images and experiences come through the movie screen, the computer screen, and the TV screen. They come through the homelife of children and youth. They come through the SmartPhone screen and the iPad.

See Jane Hit:

Why Girls Are Growing More Violent and What We Can Do About It

by James Garbarino, PhD

304 pages; Penguin Paperback

Aggression channeled to sports (public domain).
Aggression channeled to sports (public domain).

Sports can be violent and girls are getting better and better at sports.

Another example of violent aggression is the "choking game." The game is played by those as young as the first grade in France, USA, and Canada.

Children hang themselves, hopefully temporarily, to experience a "rush" that is portrayed in films.In real life, it killed David Carradine and young children found hanged in their closets by shocked parents. For the actor, it was an erotic catalyst, but kids spread the activity by word of mouth as "fun" or "I dare you."

Violence is spreading among youth like wildfire in burnt grass, directed toward others and themselves (cutting, suicide, dangerous "game" pursuits). Author James Garbarino does a a well researched and thorough job of describing the spread of violence and aggression, good and bad, in See Jane Hit.

Basketball at U of Iowa, 1908 (public domain).
Basketball at U of Iowa, 1908 (public domain).

Violence Everywhere

Kids watch violent sex, abuse, murder, and mayhem on TV and the Internet.Parents take infants and young elementary school children to R-rated films full of obscenity and gore.

Song lyrics glorify violence. Eight-year-old girls sing about bitch-slapping others. Birthday parties are blood baths encouraged by mothers that "want to get even" and YouTube shows many of these incidents. Girls beat other girls in classrooms while some teachers just watch.

One mother on the national news directed her pre-teen daughter to beat up another girl for talking to the first girl's "man." Should an 11-year-old girl even have a man? Was the mom 11 when she bore her daughter? --That happened in my clinic once in the 1990s.

On the other hand, girls may be increasing their success in good pursuits by applying physical aggression - they see it work for boys. However, physically aggressive girls may lack support at home or even be bullied by parents or siblings and then act out at school.

Girls may just be more active in sports since Title IX came into being and allowed entry by more young women and girls. I remember winning early school footraces with boys and girls in the same race - bad memories, because the teacher told us the wins did not count because I was female. Yes, I was angry.

Internet job-search sites advertise that Generations X and Y need to "get in everyone's face" to achieve career success. That places us just short of the Star Trek Klingon tradition (and Roman?) of the ship's first officer assassinating the boss for his job. The workplace is an angry place during now.

The next question is, "If there are a lot of empty slots left by retiring baby boomers, but Generations X and Y go to jail for committing violence in the workplace, who is going to work in America?" See Jane Hit makes some good suggestions.

Good Aggression

Some book critics feel that girl-aggression is over-inflated in the media, but I disagree.In my martial arts studios for years, I can testify that it is real. Our city mayor made gang violence a priority for concern equally among boys and girls in the 2000s - a metro area of 1,000,000 and growing.

See Jane Hit outlines aspects, concerns, and results of increasing girl-aggression.

James Garbarino, Ph.D., holds the Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He has advised the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, the FBI, and others. He is a go-to authority with some views and answers that help.


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from North America

      Recently, a strong, beautiful "Dancing With the Stars" contestant said that she was not built for dancing. But performed beautifully and then went back to the US Women's Volleyball Team. Not all strong women are aggressive in a bad way.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Thank you Mr. Marmalade for your thoughts! I will defintiely look into what's happening in Austalia.

      There is more smoking among girls now seemingly. I notice it alot.

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 9 years ago from Sydney


      This one of you best, which is pretty hard to achive,

      since your standard is already at a high level now.

      When I was young, many of the girls did not appear to be smoking

      Now days I belive they are smoking more then the boys.

      May be in 5 years we will be seeing those young girls getting the same diseases

      that the males get. Lung Cancer.

      There appears to be a growing concern in Australia about the female violence

      Excellent hub thank you.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Thank you, Kenny, Bart. and Guru. It is positive that people read these books and reviews and discuss the issues as we are so doing. Without the hard physical labor required before technology advanced (creating some hard brain labor), energy was applied more to work. Withe increasing population, it seems people are pressed for enough elbow room, enough attention, and enough important activities to do and too little physical activity perhaps. Violence and bad manners are indeed being galmorized and idolized in the media at times.

      Thanks for an intelligent discussion from everyone on an important change in society. 

      Patty :)

    • Guru-C profile image

      Cory Zacharia 9 years ago

      Dear Patty: Excellent Hub!!! Thanks so much for this essential topic!

    • BartholomewKlick profile image

      BartholomewKlick 9 years ago

      A book review along with educated analysis of the content. Outstanding work.

      The last few generations of people in the free world have had a unique experience. Mass communication brings forth the possibility of one person's actions having long term effects on hundreds of thousands of other people. The responsibility that must go with such power is clearly lacking.

      One would expect parents to shield their children from such influence. Instead, we find a great many people all too willing to let their children's beliefs be dictated by a film director.

      Depressing. Still, good article.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      I agree with most of the points in the hub. Violence is been given too much respectability, and as you say, being glorified. Maybe some girls even think they are being equal to men by being violent. But that's a bad aspect of traditional male behaviour, which was offset by traditional female behaviour. I would be happier if men became less aggressive instead, if somebody has to change for equality's sake.

      Hub that's a catalyst to many insights, thanks!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Really? That makes me feel good about what I do. I appreciate your comments very much.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 9 years ago

      I respect you more and more and that's hard to do because I have held you in high esteem since stumbling into your hubs.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      No, not offended. I think women or men that choose the stay-at-home preofession need adequate respect. Similarly, a person that does not want that role should not be forced into it and should think long and hard about even having children if their spouse does not want to stay at home.

      I had a student that was 17 that had to drop out of GED classes - he had a single mom that worked as much as she could and there were young brothers and sisters at home. He worked 2 fulltime fast food jobs to help support the family: White Castle and McDonalds, one 8 hours in the day and the other 8 hours at night. So, 80 hours a week and only double minimum wage at the time. So, yes, economics plays a big part I think.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 9 years ago

      I wasn't sure what you would think and naturally there will be a variety of opinions (that I won't judge) on this issue, but that opinion is mine. I admit to being relieved it didn't offend you.

      There is nothing wrong with working women and nothing saying it has to be the girl who stays home, but still... I think this is partially the contribution to what is doing wrong with society. And of course the increase in divorce doesn't help and the current economy forcing both partners to work doesn't help either.

      Me, I usually think the answer is economic. Well, you know how I am. :p Again, glad you weren't offended.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Iouun - Exactly right insights you have! I am tired of hearing of some parents that put kids in daycare from 6am - 6pm and put them straight to bed at 6:30 after a sandwich for dinner, then complain that the kids are too much work. Tahnks for writing what you did here. Kids do need to be the priority and parenting as a profession needs to be respected.

      Thanks for the comment Stacie - I think many libraries have the book.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle

      This looks like an interesting read. I'll have to add it to my book list.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 9 years ago

      Violence from youth across the board has everything to do with two job families and children not being prioritized. Rage at feeling even their own parents don't value them enough to bother to let one stay home with them. Not remotely surprising, I'm seen this trend too.

      There was a way it worked before and it involved one parent working and when children were brought into the equation, one parent staying home (and getting equal respect) for taking care of home and children.

      Different lifestyles are keen and all that, individual expression. But when you choose to have a child, you should probably be choosing to raise that child too. It's not like adopting a puppy and putting it out in the yard 8 hours a day.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Thanks very much for your insightful comments. Some days, it seems that everyone is aggressive and every interaction that comes my way is rude, competitve, and provocative.It's becoming a culture. BUt like today, some days are very pleasant and people are relaxed and kind. I just don't engage with the negatives. I'll read your hub - it's an important topic, this violence.

    • Wehzo profile image

      Nathaniel Stalling Jr 9 years ago from Detroit, MI

      Great hub Patty. You are always on the curve of something prominent, at least this is what I have gathered so far from some of your hubs. Tackling this issue of girl violence, which is one of the reasons I wrote about it in one of my hubs, 'When All Else Fails', is a very important step in the right direction. I have personally witnessed girl violence escalate at an alarming rate over the pass 30 plus years. It is a fact that has largely gone unchallenged, at least until recently. It is only recently that it has become a national issue. But it still doesn't get the attention it deserves.