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Are Girls More Violent Today than a Generation Ago? Probably Not
Sociological Viewpoints (2006)
  • Darrell Steffensmeier, Pennsylvania State University
  • Ben Feldmeyer, University of Tennessee
The authors examine recent trends in girls’ violence as reported in Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) arrest data, National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) victimization data, and Monitoring the Future (MTF) self-report data. Augmented Dickey-Fuller time series tests and intuitive plot displays show much overlap yet differences in each source’s portrayal of trends in girls’ violence and the juvenile gender gap. All three sources show little or no change in the gender gap for homicide, rape/sexual assault, and robbery. However, UCR police counts show a sharp rise in female-to-male arrests for criminal assault during the past decade or so but that rise is not borne out in NCVS counts based on victims’ reports and in MTF counts based on self-reported violent offending. Net-widening policy shifts (e.g., policing physical attacks/threats of marginal seriousness that girls in relative terms are more likely to commit) and more gender-neutral enforcement have apparently escalated the arrest proneness of adolescent females for “criminal assault.” Rather than girls having become more violent, official data increasingly mask differences in violent offending by male and female youth.
  • Violence,
  • Gender,
  • Trends,
  • Social Change
Publication Date
Citation Information
Darrell Steffensmeier and Ben Feldmeyer. "Are Girls More Violent Today than a Generation Ago? Probably Not" Sociological Viewpoints Vol. 22 (2006)
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