We all know that many young people, especially females, have self-esteem issues. For some females they seem to gravitate toward gang membership. Why is there growing interest in female juvenile gangs? What are some general trends in female juvenile delinquency, and are these trends of interest to authorities?
I agree that many gangs are now recruiting female members that weren't previously accepting females. The idea that women are fragile and should be protected is somewhat fading. Women can be seen as cruel and ruthless just like men. If you need an example of that, just look at the latest reality TV shows. I know female fights were on the rise at the last school I taught at. We used to talk about the difference between male and female fights at the school. The boys would fight and then it would be over, but the girls would tear each other to pieces. A hall after a boy on boy fight was generally free of any evidence of the fight as soon as the students were cleared out. A girl fight, however, would have earrings, jewelry, fingernails, hair, or other remainders left behind after a fight. I think some of the male gang members who witnessed this type of behavior would certainly think twice about the stereotype of girls being weak and fragile.
I agree with other editors above about the way in which notions of femininity and role models that girls are looking towards today have changed dramatically in recent years. In particular, the way in which figures such as Amy Winehouse have become role models because of their drug and alcohol abuse should make us seriously concerned. In addition, we need to be aware that often female violence is just as serious an issue, if not more so, than male violence. Female gangs seem to be rising in popularity because of the way in which they give females who have little opportunities in society a sense of belonging and power.
I have to agree with previous posts that there are many more "role models" for girls looking to assume more aggressive patterns of behavior than may have been the case in "the good old days." However, post #5 asked about memories of gang behavior from the past. As a 1970 high school graduate, I don't remember nearly as much gang activity per se in my high school, but some of the girls in my class could fight with words and gossip in a way that was just as vicious and hurtful as what I see in classrooms or read about happening on Facebook, etc. today. Girls have always been able to find ways to act out their hatefulness when they needed to. In some ways, boys may be easier to deal with!
I agree with the above posters that girls are looking for many of the same forms of validation and acceptance in gangs that boys are. The overall juvenile delinquency rate, however, is not necessarily in direct correlation with female gang membership.
There are more females in gangs than 20 or 30 years ago, but there are more males as well. The only gender-specific trend I have read about is that more young women are being arrested for violent crimes as opposed to burglary, prostitution and drug dealing.
There are more images and role models in the media which advocate strength and assertiveness - to the point of aggression as a female quality nowadays: starting with Bratz and Powerpuff girls, through Lara Croft of Tomb Raider and up to films like Kill Bill and even the odd music video. I too have seen violence escalate amongst teenage girls. Our media images of what makes girls/women attractive has changes significantly, as have attitudes as a result.
Since many of the people posting here can probably remember what it was like to go to high school decades ago (high school for me would have been in the early 70s), it would be interesting to hear from others about what the gang situation was like back then. I don't recall any problems with gangs, although surely there must have been some. I didn't attend any especially privileged schools, and yet I recall no fear of organized violence in the schools I attended. It would be interesting to know (I have some theories) what happened between the 1960s and now to have made gangs, even among girls, increasingly prevalent. There seems to have been a general coarsening of our culture, a general breakdown in order and mutual respect. Ironically, gangs can provide both, in a perverted way.
Here's a link that may be helpful to you: http://crimeinamerica.net/2010/07/13/female-juvenile-delinquency-doubled-since-1985-while-males-rise-30-percent/
I have broken up more fights between girls than boys at school in the past few years, and many of the discipline problems in class stem from tough-talking girls who seem to want to prove that they are the equal of the toughest boys. It's no surprise that female gangs are on the rise, since many girls have adapted violence as a way of self-expression. Ah, for the old days when school girls aspired to be ladies and not hoodlums.
I think that one reason for this is that there is a declining difference in sex roles in today's society. At one point, the idea of girls in gangs would have been relatively strange because there was much more of a belief iin the idea that girls should not be aggressive and such. Because these sorts of stereotypes are fading, it is more acceptable for girls to be part of gangs.