Teenagers from hell
Popular films, and a rise in families without a father, appear to be factors in an alarming trend towards young female violence. Glenda Cooper reports
Thursday 06 February 1997
Such a hate campaign would be terrible no matter who devised it. But it acquires a shocking resonance when you discover that it is eight girls scarcely into their teens who are alleged to have carried it out.
All have since been suspended from the school , considered to be one of the best schools in Scotland, and are facing police investigation. The headteacher claimed that there was not a discipline problem, and his pupils were "decent" boys and girls.
Girls have always been cruel, as anyone who endured a girls' school can testify. Psychologists have conducted studies showing that they make much more effective bullies than boys, because they have superior understanding of the way relationships function and thus can devise subtle ways of torturing their victims.
Surely it wasn't always like this? Take off your NHS specs; it always was. Even in that distant Angela Brazil world there were always the Imogens, the Gillians and the Olgas whose cruelty left you terrified.
What is different is that young women are moving away from the traditional weapons of verbal torture, poison pen letters, and social ostracism. There are indications that schoolgirl Flashmans are adding physical violence to their repertoire.
The charity Kidscape has seen a "marked trend" in calls to its help line about girl bullies. It received 80 reports of violence in 1993, which had risen to 119 by 1995, varying from kicking and pushing to one group attack in which a girl was pinned down in the showers by classmates who pushed a bar of soap into her anus.
Sometimes the consequences of girls' violence can be even more severe. Last year in Corby, Louise Allen, 13, was set on by a group of girls "like a pack of animals" and kicked to death after she tried to break up a fight. Two girls were found guilty of her manslaughter last December.
Worryingly, the think-tank Demos reports that in the 15-to-17 age group, girls are more likely to take pleasure in violence than boys, suggesting that we may have a new generation of female aggressors in the making.
But who can blame them? All around them girls see an increase of violent female images. Doris Day is supplanted by Sharon Stone. Thelma and Louise, Single White Female, Basic Instinct and Heavenly Creatures, all featuring aggressive, powerful females, were huge successes on the wide screen.
Added to this is a prevailing culture of aggression that makes girls think they have to be tough to survive, plus an increasing number of broken homes that leave girls without a father to take on the protective role. Is it surprising, then, that the conclusion girls reach is that sisters have to do it for themselves?
More confidence and self-esteem at school - girls outperform boys all the way to A-level now - may well have released latent aggression in these young women. The message to go and get what you want has become twisted to read: "kick everyone who gets in your way".
Girls' lives have been transformed by increasing equality with boys, but the price we have paid is that they seem to be taking on the darker aspects of male behaviour. Until we convince them that violent machismo is no good for either sex, playgrounds could become increasingly violentn
Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando
First full-length look is finally here
World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Sex abuse inquiry: 'Victims receive death threats' after MPs release names online
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Teenager brandishing fake gun taken down by police after demanding airtime on Netherlands' NOS TV station
The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£130 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher Jan 2015 - July...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Our exclusive client in St Albans Hertfords...