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Volume 16, Number 1
January/February 2000

‘Every Friday was Fight Day’

Researchers look at why girls fight—and how to help them stop


Geoffrey Canada, director of Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families in New York City, holds his hands out in front of his chest, patting the air tentatively. "This is how people approached a fight between girls," he says. "They would say, 'Come on, you all.' They just wouldn't intervene."

Canada describes how teachers he supervised when he was principal of an inner-city Boston high school seemed hesitant and confused when approaching fights between girls. "I spent particular time training men and women to break up a fight between girls," he says. "Even after we went through it, they wouldn't do it. They just wouldn't do it."

Canada could have been describing the reaction of society at large to girls' violence, say experts in juvenile justice and violence-prevention programs. U.S. Department of Justice statistics show that girls account for a significantly larger proportion of violent juvenile offenses than they did 25 years ago. Yet there has been almost no increase in the number of studies and services devoted to girls and violence.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

J. Aber, J. Brown, and C.Henrich. Teaching Conflict Resolution: An Effective School-Based Approach to Violence Prevention. New York: National Center for Children in Poverty, 1999.

L. Acoca. "Investing in Girls: A 21st-Century Strategy." Juvenile Justice 6, no. 1 (October 1999): 3-13.

S. Artz. "Where Have All the School Girls Gone? Violent Girls in the School Yard." Child and Youth Care Forum 27, no. 2 (April 1998): 77-109.

S. Artz. "What, So What, Then What? The Gender Gap in School-Based Violence and Its Implications for Child and Youth Care Practice." Child And Youth Care Forum 26, no. 4 (August 1997): 291-303.

M. Chesney-Lind. "Girls and Violence: An Overview," in Youth Violence: Prevention, Intervention, and Social Policy, ed. D.C. Flannery and C.R. Huff. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 1998

E. Poe-Yamagata and J. Butts. Female Offenders in the Juvenile Justice System. Pittsburgh: National Center for Juvenile Justice, 1996.

F. Weiss, H. Nicholson, and M. Cretella. Prevention and Parity: Girls in Juvenile Justice. New York: Girls Incorporated, 1996; 212-698-3700.