It’s unfortunate that today’s technology seems to be fueling undesirable trends with teenagers. The latest disturbing news is the rising trend of teen girl-on-girl violence. Young girls are attacking each other in a shockingly vicious manner. These physical confrontations are a far cry from the occasional hair pulling, face slapping, cat fights of previous generations. The notoriety that these narcissistic bullies are hoping for by filming these attacks and posting them online has escalated the aggression to dangerous or even deadly levels.
Girls are becoming as physically aggressive as boys.
According to Brenda Flanagan, a New Jersey based journalist who reported on escalating teen girl violence in November, 2011, girls are perpetrating 1 out of 4 violent episodes occurring in schools, compared to 1 out of 10 for the previous generation. Juvenile court cases for girls have more than doubled and arrests for assault have risen 233%.
Social media sites like YouTube and Facebook are giving out of control, impulsive teens a platform where they can gossip, insult and intimidate each other by posting these violent altercations shortly after the explosion.
Confrontations can lead to serious injury and criminal charges.
In March of 2012, WPRI Eyewitness News of Newport, Rhode Island reported on two disturbing videos showing teen girls attacking other girls. In the first video, four girls attacked a 12-year-old girl in Woonsocket, RI. Two of the perpetrators were also 12 and the other two were 13. The video was posted on YouTube. After the victim’s mother went to the police, the four teen girls responsible for beating the 12 year old were charged with various crimes, including assault and conspiracy. The victim suffered from bite marks on her body, two black eyes and swelling in her head. The young girl had previous medical issues, as a shunt was already in place to drain fluid from her brain.
The second video showed a female high school student attacking a fellow classmate by punching her, pulling her hair and dragging her around. Although the second victim was not seriously hurt, the girl who attacked her was also charged with assault.
Social media is fueling the fire.
Social networking through texting and sites like Facebook also helps fan the flames when a spark is ignited. Many of these violent episodes start out as cyber bullying. As more people become involved in the conflict, a pack mentality begins to develop, which can quickly escalate out of control.
Be proactive about protecting your daughter.
If you have a tween or teen girl, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on the available resources you may need if your daughter becomes a victim or even an instigator of cyber bullying and teen violence.
Monitoring and staying involved with your daughter’s online social media is one way you can help prevent small arguments and bickering from escalating into threats. Try not to be too much of a ‘butt-in-ski’ because kids need to be able to resolve their own arguments. However, when you see the language and tone getting ugly, it’s time to step in and shut it down quickly. Simply monitoring the public comments that everyone (or at least all of your daughter’s online friends) can see isn’t good enough because the real threats will most likely be sent through private messages. This means you will need to know your daughter’s passwords. If she complains about needing privacy, buy her a journal or diary and let her keep that private. The Internet is not the place to give your daughter her privacy.
I have already been at the police station once with my daughter when she was 12. One of her “friends” suddenly turned on her and actually went so far as to threaten her life. That was more than enough for me.
Find other resources for help and support.
If you feel overwhelmed and need additional help, you can also try these online resources:
- Keys to Safer Schools
- National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention
- The Girls Project
A final consideration; don’t become a part of the problem by condoning your daughter’s behavior as a bully. Teaching self-defense if someone attacks her first is understandable. Encouraging a physical confrontation because you think she has a good reason is really bad parenting and shows a complete lack of judgment.