Recently, a rather disturbing video was shown on the national news. The video clip depicts two girls fighting at a Seattle Bus Tunnel. A young girl, reported to be fifteen years old, rushes from out of the picture and hurls herself into another young girl. A slugfest ensues and eventually the larger of the two pummels the other. As the vanquished girl is lying on the cement sidewalk, the larger girl kicks her in the head several times; the helpless victim can do nothing to protect herself. Though the subdued girl is clearly defenseless, the attacker leaves and then returns to kick the defenseless girl in the face. These events occurred uninterrupted by any of the many bystanders including three nearby, uniformed security officers.
The immediate question that comes to mind is why didn't anyone try to come between the two girls as they hit each other repeatedly? Why did no one come to the aid of a defenseless girl being repeatedly kicked in the head? What about the attacker? She attacked her victim with three security officers in plain sight; how could she be so sure that they would not intervene?
Growing up I witnessed fights and was involved in a few myself, and a few unspoken rules were observed. If someone bested the other person and they were down, you did not kick them in the face and head while they were defenseless or had conceded their defeat. Have our cultural values changed so much that this sort of vicious behavior is okay? Or, is this the behavior of a young girl with tremendous aggression and behavior that is very abnormal? I suspect the latter is true.
Some have taken the position that girls are becoming more violent. What is being offered as proof of increased violence among girls is in my opinion, incomplete or at the very least short-sighted. The U.S. Justice Department's Uniform Crime Reports between 1992-2006 demonstrate that violence among girls increased by 41 percent. During that same period of time, violence among boys increased by 4.3 percent.
One thread of reasoning is that women are becoming more "man like." They are becoming our highest performing students, they are becoming more prominent in the world of sports, they are becoming more prominent in the political realm and are increasingly the CEO's at Fortune 500 companies and not just the secretary. Do these changes necessarily mean that women are destined to follow men's more aggressive and violent path? I believe that this is yet to be determined.
The perceived changes in aggressive behaviors among girls should be closely monitored. If it is determined that these changes are advancing then we should intervene to address those changes. Girl aggression is still more dominated by exclusion behaviors, verbal insults and an array of psychological warfare tactics. Most girls are not physically assaulting each other.
While the Seattle video raises many concerns, I believe that girl-on-girl violence is not the first priority. Finding out why no one helped a defenseless girl who was savagely beaten in the sight of many should be our first priority. Remember all kids count.
Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org