Introduction: What is
the study about?
Context: Why is the study looking at
girls and violence, and not boys and violence?
What is the study trying to find out?
Study Design: How
is the study going to address these questions?
Implications: So what?
Where can I get more information?
Our study is looking at girls lives: what they
do in their spare time, what they think about various things, and what
experiences they have had. We are particularly interested in finding out about
girls views about being violent or aggressive.
The violent behaviour of girls has been talked about a lot
recently. Fear of 'girl gangs' has been reported in newspapers,
magazines and on television, as have particular court cases
where girls have been reported as 'torturing' their victims.
Despite this concern, little is actually known about the nature
and extent of violent behaviour by girls or how best to respond
Most explanations of violence are based on studies of
men's violence. Girls' and women's ability to behave 'violently' has been
largely ignored or minimised. Where it is considered, female violence is either
'masculinised' or seen as a manifestation of madness, hence the view that
violent women "must be either trying to be men or just crazy" (Campbell 1993:
144). Very few British studies have looked directly at female violence, and
there have been no systematic studies of the role that violence plays in the
lives of girls. Most importantly, no-one has asked girls themselves what
they think about things, and what their experiences of violence
and of using violence are. We think that girls views are important and
that is why we asked them for their help.
Our research is trying to understand the meaning and
function of violence from the viewpoint of girls. In doing so we hope to
challenge some of the traditional thinking about violence derived mainly from
research on boys and young men. The study is looking at girls' attitudes and
experiences of violent behaviour to understand better their motivations
towards, and expressions of, different forms of violence. We are also examining
the extent to which attitudes and experiences differ across locales, settings,
The study is also examining the social, situational,
individual and experiential factors which may affect girls' decisions to act
violently (such as their attitudes and values, their views about their social
world, and their experience of violence and of using violence). In this
approach, girls are seen as active decision-makers when deciding to use or
desist from violence. Accordingly, the research is looking at the ways in which
violence may be understood and used as a rewarding strategy by girls, or as a
means of resistance, and also at girls' ways of coping or dealing with
potentially violent situations.
To find out what girls views and experiences
are, we have travelled all over Scotland to speak to different groups of girls.
We have spoken to girls in towns and cities, and in villages and countryside
places. Some girls spoke to us at school, but we met others through their
attendance at youth work programmes, football clubs, or drop-in centres.
Most girls (aged 13-16 years) filled in a self-report questionnaire,
but some took part in a group meeting, or in an individual
interview. These research methods were developed from an earlier
exploratory project (funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian
Foundation), and in conjunction with our Youth Advisory
Group (YAG). The YAG are a group of girls who help us with
our research. They make an important contribution to our study
and give us advice on things like the best way to ask questions.
Without a clear understanding of girls' own views of
violence, and where it fits into their lives, policies and practices cannot
address it. The data generated will provide a strong background to consider
community and school violence prevention strategies that are not only
child-centred, but include girls' perceptions and experiences. Similarly, more
information about girls' motivations in relation to violence is needed to
develop strategies (policy and practice) for working with young people whose
behavioural difficulties include violence, such as family support,
If you would like more information about our research,
please contact us at the address below:
Girls and Violence study
University of Glasgow
Adam Smith Building (S215)
Glasgow G12 8RT
Or E-mail us: email@example.com