Tahlequah Daily Press

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January 26, 2007

Violence among teen girls increasing

Hair-pulling and eye-gouging used to be the norm if and when a disagreement between girls escalated into anything more than name-calling.

But no more. Nowadays, girls are just as likely as boys to throw a right hook or land a sucker punch.

Anyone surfing the Web has probably seen the recent headlines: Violent girl fight caught on video and distributed on YouTube, or some such thing. And it has many psychologists, juvenile service attorneys and educators concerned.

Shannon Otteson, a Tahlequah juvenile delinquent defense attorney, has seen a local increase in violence among teenage girls.

“They [girls] seem to have taken over areas previously dominated by boys,” said Otteson. “I first noticed it when they began using foul language that used to be reserved for guys when talking to other guys, then they began to use hand gestures. Their violence then graduated from ‘girl fighting’ - pulling hair, scratching, etc. - to actual punching, hitting, kicking and then to the use of weapons. They appear to have little or no remorse, and a kind of ‘they deserved it’ attitude.”

According to a recent report on MSNBC, federal statistics indicate if the trend continues, female delinquents will take up even more of the time and attention of researchers, policymakers, court officials and service providers.

From 1992 to 2003, the most recent year for which complete figures are available in the Justice Department’s Uniform Crime Report, the number of girls arrested on all charges increased by 6.4 percent, compared with a decline among boys of 16.4 percent.

The glaring observation involved the figures for assault: Within the study’s time frame, girls arrested nationwide rose 41 percent, as opposed to a 4.3 percent increase among boys.

Despite Otteson’s observations, Dr. Nick Migliorino, principal at Tahlequah High School, has seen very little change in girls’ behavior.

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