Girls “account for 29 percent of all juvenile arrests, up from 23 percent in 1990,” the Christian Science Monitor reports. But the arrest statistics may be misleading. “Status offenses” like truancy and running away are more likely to be labeled as crimes, and schools’ zero-tolerance policies are “upcriming” minor offenses. In addition, “Awareness is growing in the media and among policymakers of girls’ violence, which was always there but largely ignored, since the juvenile justice system has traditionally been geared toward boys.”
Over all, teen-agers are less violent.
The spike in juvenile violence started in the late ’80s, reaching a peak in 1994, when it began a steady downward trend, according to the US Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
By 2001, juvenile violent crime arrests had dropped 44 percent. But while boys’ crimes – almost three-quarters of all offenses – were tapering off, girls’ crimes were still rising or at least declining at a slower rate.
According to the FBI, girls’ arrests rose 6.4 percent from 1992 to 2003, while boys’ dropped 16.4 percent. In the area of assault, girls’ arrests shot up 40.9 percent over the same period, while boys’ climbed just 4.3 percent.
Girls may be using more physical violence when they fight, but the evidence is anecdotal. And it’s contradicted by a Centers for Disease Control survey: “Between 1991 and 2001, self-reported delinquency revealed that the number of girls getting into physical fights actually dropped 30 percent.”