Girls in Jail

By Susan Black

One midsummer afternoon I met a recent college graduate with a degree in social work. She’d applied for jobs at a hospital and at a family service agency, but she’d ruled out working in schools.

“Teen girls,” she told me, “are getting more aggressive and vicious, and they’re committing more crimes.”

In 2005, Newsweek described a “significant rise in violent behavior among girls” that amounted to a “national crisis.” The article, titled “Bad Girls Go Wild,” sounded an alarm that spread quickly, with little scrutiny.

Has there been a surge in teen girls’ criminal behavior? Are girls’ crimes increasingly violent? Have crimes committed by girls reached the crisis point?

The answers, I’ve found, are partly yes --  but mostly no.

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