generally, i'm a fan of judge andrew beecroft, the chief youth court judge. he has many sensible things to say about youth justice and has made a significant contribution to this
country. currently, he is concerned at the increase in violence committed by young women:
in the past the principal youth court judge andrew beecroft has spoken about a dangerous view. a small group of hardened young offenders mostly young men who he has described as unexploded human time bombs. but now now he says youth courts are reporting a noticeable and concerning increase in the young women appearing in court on violence offences.
"any time that there's a rise in violence that appears to be discernable for one gender, you've got to ask questions why is that happening. and it's also a concern because if we don't deal with it chances are it could get worse."
which is all very good. but this bit is a little more concerning:
mr beecroft says there are clear differences in the types of violence committed between the sexes. he says most vioelnt crime committed by boys is mindless and spontaneous and is often fuelled by drugs or alcohol.
"for the girls it's quite different. it's planned. it's premeditated. it's targetted. it's often two or three girls targetting another girl, or an older woman or an older man. and there's usually a reason thought about behind it."
is premedidated violence worse than mindless and spontaneous violence, and if so, how? the end result is, after all, the same. (a similar point is made by hugh in comments here). and it's not like boys don't premedidate at all, or commit violence in groups at all. those aspects are possibly more prominent in violence committed by girls because of their lesser physical strength, hence a greater concern for physical safety. it's the way these two paragraphs are constructed, promoting the stereotype of helpless, hapless males (it's the drugs/alcohol, not them) compared to scheming, conniving females, which makes me distinctly uncomfortable.
mr beecroft says the number of girls involved in violent crime is proabably no more than a few hundred. he says it's hard to give an exact number as there are no official court statistics that provide a breakdown between individual crimes and the gender of offenders, but no matter how many girls are involved, mr beecroft says the rise in violence committed at their hands is a worry and he says the increase appear to be a global trend.
"these are issues really which are facing the whole western world. i went to a conference of judges in the united states and the most popular seminar by miles was that entitled 'rediscovering the way we deal with young female violent offendors'."
ok, this gets worse. the number of violent young women doesn't matter, since we don't have any proof of an increase in numbers, but the increase in the intensity of the violence matters. which is true, but isn't the level of intensity increasing for male offenders as well? is there any proof that this is something specific to women?
and i hardly think that lots of people attending one seminar at one conference gives any proof of a global trend! but wait, there's more:
the police national manager for youth services, superintendent bill harrison, said that officers around the country have also reported an increase in the number of young women coming to their attention, in particular those aged from fourteen to seventeen. but he says at the moment, there are no specific statistics to back up these anecdotes.
"to say that it's a real one, well i think the jury's still out. but it's certainly a concern that we are getting reports back from our districts that is saying that the number of young women coming to to notice is on the increase."
again, quite a bit of contradiction happening here. the jury's out, we don't have any numbers to prove it, but yes there's an increase.
last month, the social welfare development minister paula bennett stepped in to stop a group of about 30 teenagers at a west auckland shopping mall who were fighting. mr harrison says such incidents are quite rare but the incident is one example officers have given where young girls were involved.
so young girls "were involved". was this a fight involving only 30 girls? if not, i don't see involvement of young girls being a greater concern than the involvement of young boys ie both are equally concerning.
"we've got other reports of young women being involved in youth-gang type situations where they're either committing offences or supporting the commission of offences by their male counterparts."
the police are currently studying the extent of crime committed by young women. they are looking at their own statistics as well as literature and hospital and ACC data and will report back later this year.
in which case, i would think that it's better to get the evidence before telling us there is a disproportionate problem. unless the rate of violent offending by girls is increasing higher than the rate for boys, the only issue is how to reduce violence by young people overall. the strategies used to do this may be different for each gender, so in that sense, i can agree with judge beecroft's desire to investigate the nature of the violence committed by girls. but i just don't like the undercurrent here, seeming to imply that girls being violent is worse than boys being violent.