Monday, February 13, 2006

Raising Nonviolent Girls

Kudos to Child magazine for having a small but worthwhile blurb about how to raise a nonviolent girl. The blurb mentions the work of James Garbarino, author of See Jane Hit : Why Girls Are Growing More Violent and What We Can Do About It,a new book coming out this week. Girls are getting meaner and Garbarino, professor of psychology at Loyola University Chicago, says that "positive social changes are behind the emerging aggressiveness." "Girls today are taught to communicate their feelings rather than bottle them up and feel victimized, and are encouraged to express themselves physically in sports. While these are positive developments, they can have negative side effects", says Dr. Garbarino who offers these violence-prevention tips:

Treat girls equally. Research has shown that boys who are taught the boundaries of being physically aggressive are less violent. Through roughhousing and playing sports, parents can also teach girls ways to be aggressive that aren't harmful to themselves or others. Explain to them that "it's okay to be aggressive during soccer, but you can't punch people in the nose or pull their hair. You have to follow the rules."

Develop character. Teach your child to identify her emotions and recognize how others feel. Remind her that while it's okay to speak up for herself, it's never okay to hurt others with words.

Limit exposure to violence. Protect kids from the violence shown in the media. In recent years, TV shows and video games have been flooded with female action stars--which can send the wrong message.

Well, I don't agree fully with all of these points--unlike Dr. Garbarino, I do not think it has been that positive a social change for girls to be told they are victims who have to communicate every feeling of displeasure. If you see yourself as a victim, it is easy to believe you cannot hurt others, even when you punch, hit and verbally abuse people. I think that some exposure to aggressive video games can be okay--but it would be best if the star is not seen as a hero who is cruel to others and rewarded. But, on a positive note, maybe parents and society will take heed from Garbarino's book and quit it with the "You Go Girl" culture. Because, sometimes, convincing a girl that she is a victim and that her only recourse is to spit venom can backfire into her becoming a full-grown bully--or the next Maureen Dowd.


Blogger DADvocate said...

I've mentioned this before but it seems to be common belief among girls that it's OK for girls to hit boys but not boys to hit girls. I've seen this in my daughter and her friends. I think I've finally broke my daughter of hitting her brothers everytime they say something she doesn't like.

As I remember, girls have held this OK to hit boys belief a long time. It didn't just start recently.

4:08 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


No, the trend for girls to hit boys did not start recently but there has been a big surge in recent years of girl's arrests for assault which is a concern. Great that you teach your daughter not to hit boys--it is not as cute as they think it is.

4:11 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger DADvocate said...

BTW - I hope all is well with your daughter. I read about the pre-cautionary tests at Instapundit.

4:41 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Yes, she is great--but was having some breathing problems with exercise but she has asthma and the pediatric cardiologist just saw her for tests--so far--the tests show no problems at all. We have some more tests(holter monitor etc.) but so far, all looks good. Thanks for asking.

4:43 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Sissy Willis said...

Touche re Maureen Dowd. I caught her in a Fox interview with the totally lovely and professional and smile-enducing Bridget Quinn today, and how dowdy the Dowd woman seemed by comparison.

5:05 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

What is this about girls bottling up feelings? Someone should tell Dr. Garbarino that the 70's are over. We have an entire culture that is getting really good at getting their feelings out -- it's keeping them in that we need to work on. From the rather obvious and long-known notion that "some people are shy," we had entire schools of psychology that dedicated themselves to seeking out our worst selves and sharing them with everyone else. Gakk!

I've had this conversation with the girlfriends and mothers of violent males for too long -- must I look forward to this lame excuse for females as well? Communicating one's feelings in measured tones can be useful at times, but cannot be regarded as the default position for a civilised human being.

Nonetheless, addressing the problem of increasingly violent girls is worth something in itself.

5:56 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for addressing yet another very important topic, and one that could draw you some flak from the PC crowd. With no children in my house, I was not aware that girls had become more prone to violence, before I started student teaching (in my late 40's), years ago. I quit my first student teaching assignment half-way through the semester, because two tough girls, one a minority, had turned to intimidation and a couple of thinly veiled threats against me. I had made the colossal error of looking in their direction whenever I heard whispering coming from there. That made me a "racist bigot." When I went through an entire night with not a bit of sleep, I knew it was time to get out of there.

6:28 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is this about girls bottling up feelings? Someone should tell Dr. Garbarino that the 70's are over.

I do get the idea that U.S. popular culture has gotten stuck on a crude, often distorted, interpretation of therapeutic ideals. Our fixation on self-esteem as a palliative for all anxieties and emotional problems seems as likely to induce morbid self-reflection. Of the women I've known who have embraced this ethic, many seem to fall into a sort of perpetual adolescence. They're not happy with their lives, but won't look critically at their own behavior and so blame society, or their husbands a/o children. The reason that I bring this up is that many of these women were raised in liberal upper-middle class households during the 'free to be you and me' 70's. They were promoted many of the same nostrums that we're still promoting to young girls.

This is where I got the idea for a 'leave women the hell alone month' during which the media would cease badgering women with 'relationship tests' and vapid psychobabble, strangely it hasn't caught-on ;)

8:08 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You totally misread the blurb.

"Girls today are taught to communicate their feelings rather than bottle them up and feel victimized, and are encouraged to express themselves physically in sports..."

It's saying the "communication therapy" is leading AWAY (hence the use of the words "rather than") from feelings of victimization.

But, by all means, use this as an opportunity to rail on about your favorite topic--liberals and particularly liberal-minded, victim-playing women. No need to be even-handed or at least appear to be. After all, it's your blog and, by golly, you'll be reasoned when you damn well feel like it. Hey, and I'm so pleased to see that you never pass up an opportunity to make an ad hominem attack on Maureen Dowd when you see one. I'll give you one thing lady--you're consistent.

That being said, I think anonymous 8:08 makes a good point (minus the, again, discrediting liberal-aimed venom).

9:55 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

On a minor point, it's been my experience that there are different standards for boys and girls when it comes to violence in athletics. For example, in basketball games in my area, referees will almost always call a foul on a male player when he elbows another player. The same conduct is rarely flagged in girls' games. If you ask the referee after the game, they usually say they didn't think the girl meant to hit the other player even though video replays make it fairly clear that these girls meant to disable the other player. It's hard to believe the refs have such different standards, but I think it's because we are conditioned to believe that girls are gentler and don't want to harm other people.

12:05 AM, February 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Interesting. Our refs are the opposite. They tend to call more fouls on girls than on boys; I suspect because they worry the dears will get a bruise.

1:58 AM, February 14, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

Anonymous @ 1:58 AM: Actually, our refs call more fouls on girls than boys, too, but not intentional fouls. The refs definitely try to slow down the girls' games, but they don't call intentional fouls on girls as often as they do on boys. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

2:22 AM, February 14, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


I do not think all violence is bad--in fact, in true self-defense cases, it is sometimes the only way to go. Here, we are talking about girls who assault others out of anger, hit boys because it is cute and a way of "getting back at their perceived oppressors," and attack others for reasons other than self-defense. I think to teach children control of their emotions is the solution but this does not negate the importance of using violence when it is necessary.

8:42 AM, February 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon:9:55 - where's the venom ?
I know plenty of liberals who are fed-up with the 'I'm a victim so I'm perfect' mentality. It can lead to attitudes and behaviors that are very anti-social. When I used to work for a women's shelter in SF we'd waste literally 70% of every meeting playing 'who's the victim' politics. It was really frustrating and left you a bit cynical towards claims of victimization.

9:59 AM, February 14, 2006  
Blogger Jeff with one 'f' said...

Time for a female version of chivalry.

11:05 AM, February 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the girls need is the Boudicca culture.

12:08 PM, February 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helen said that not all violence is bad, and that is important to our current problems with violence. Teaching peace above all denies that there is ever an appropriate situation for violence, but this is disingenuous in a society whose law enforcement officers carry deadly weapons. Clearly, there are situations that justify or even demand violence. If we deny their existence, we abandon the opportunity to teach kids how to discern such situations in a consistent moral and ethical framework. Absent that, violence truly becomes, as Asimov said the last resort of the incompetent. A generation lacking a methodology for intellectually discerning the moral violence threshhold will let their emotions guide them, and typically turn to violence whenever their self interest is sufficiently thwarted.

1:00 PM, February 14, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Thanks for clarifying!

3:15 PM, February 14, 2006  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

For co-ed indoor soccer, put your girls in ponytails. If anyone bumps them, it looks like they are being decapitated. My soccer-obsessed son from Romania had a difficult time adjusting to playing against girls -- he was both overcautious with them and over-resentful when fouls were called on him and not them.

Most of the girls I coached and watched were still non-violent, non-aggressive, sometimes too ladylike for ball sports. The girls who didn't have such scruples ate them alive. As the competition got tougher, the girls who had relied on physicality instead of skill would get very frustrated, mean, and violent toward the more talented girls.

7:49 PM, February 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dadvocate - I experienced similar behavior on the part of grown women, when I participated in a city-indoor soccer league a few years back. Woe be to any man who deferred to the aggressive women. My then fiancee was the worst - she would actually try to hurt the guys at every possible situation!!! A good Lawrence Taylor on Joe Theisman type hit from me ended her bad behavior, thankfully, as well as the engagement!!!!! For which I am glad. I dont play these days, but go to watch games in which friends play, and I am amazed by the sneaky ways in which some women soccer players hit, trip, or tackle in a manner designed to hurt the male players.

8:38 PM, February 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said! My stepdaughter's mother taught her to not take no for an answer--NOT how to listen to others and respect their boundaries. My stepdaughter's teachers taught her Girl Power--NOT how to co-operate and create win/win situations. Oh, and a victim's rights advocate also taught my stepdaughter vicious self-defence moves--but did NOT warn her to use these damaging and potentially lethal techniques only on someone who tries to assault her, not on an adult showing her how to use a washing machine. A girl who screams verbal abuse, blackmails, steals, lies, and assualts does NOT have the advantage in today's world.

8:02 PM, April 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

violence IS ALWAYS wrong bottom line. other than defending yourself, when the hell is violence right? come on now use your friggin head, common sense no one in here implied violence is ALWAYS wrong, they are saying is wrong in a way where mentioned above with girls being given the wrong path to follow mentally, hurting someone is never right, and shit i will be the first to agree with this as i have been hurt by females in the same neglective manor spoken above. It's confusing and i totally dont get why females get this way, so much bitterness towards men yet men get abused to but society makes it a "OH GET OVER IT" ur a guy type thing. its not right for ANYONE to get hurt

9:11 PM, July 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This 'hitting' phenomenon by girls is really nothing compared to the age-old and socially accepted type of female aggression of 'spitting venom'. From grade school up, girls have been allowed to use hurtful words without much (or any) repercussion from the school system while at the same time, acts of physical aggression (fighting) have resulted with punishment or even suspension... often given to the innocent party as well. Traditionally, this has created an uneven balance of punishment between boys and girls, with the male troublemaker seen as a bully but with the female seen as 'just being a girl... ignore her'. This stems from the unwarranted view that "sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me", which is a false statement of mega proportion. Some childhood injuries are healed within days but mental injuries can last a lifetime and affect the individual in surprising ways.

Should we be alarmed by a rise in female physical aggression? Absolutely! Should we also be equally alarmed with acts of verbal aggression happening on a daily basis both on school campuses and within the world of internet communication where so many of our kids hang out with peers? No answer needed.

Knoxville phiL

9:19 AM, May 14, 2007  

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