Are sweet, pigtailed American girls becoming violent, bloodthirsty thugs? Last year The Boston Globe ran a piece under the headline "Violence Raging Among Teen Girls," citing girls' increased tendencies toward physical violence. Newsweek's take was labeled "Bad Girls Go Wild." But research presented last week by Darrell Steffensmeier, a professor of sociology and criminology at Penn State, finds that girls haven't changed so much as the threshold for a slap on the wrist. Explains Steffensmeier:
"Girls are more likely to be arrested today than yesteryear for fighting with their parents or stepparents, teachers or other supervisors, and with other girls….Police files show that actions such as a girl throwing a dish at her mother or pouring a carton of chocolate milk on a girl at school for 'talking about her,' now result in arrests."
The research team also found that the female-to-male percentage of assault arrests was 20 percent in 1980 but just 19 percent in 2003—yet another area where women are falling behind.