Rising signs of trouble among girls spark alarms
LOS ANGELES (–Federal researchers indicate that young Black girls are on an increased perilous path to violence and prisons, both as perpetrators and victims.

In the shadow of oft-repeated Black male statistics citing high incarceration and school drop-out rates, drug use, gun violence, and steady deaths, Black girls are rapidly slipping almost unnoticed into gangs, after-school brawls, juvenile prisons and vandalism at a rate faster than boys.

Child advocates state that unless families and society become re-educated and re-trained on what impacts the lives of these girls, the damage to properties and persons will prove more devastating to everyone.


“There’s no single factor that can be held responsible, but there are compounding issues of education, a history of drug, alcohol, physical, emotional and sexual abuse among females in general,” said Monique Morris, senior researcher for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. 

The culprit is the history of victimization among Black girls, she said.  She is disturbed that the issue is not addressed as she believes it should be, particularly in the media.  This victimization, she added, is a clear link to their growing rate of involvement in violence and entry into the justice system. 

In fact, she added, women, and increasingly Black females, are currently the fastest growing group involved in violence, and sent to prison.

Her research revealed that Black girls are more likely than girls of other racial groups to commit nonviolent offenses; the rate at which Black girls were charged with property offenses increased by 92 percent between 1985 and 1994, compared with 38 percent for all girls; the number of delinquency cases involving Black girls increased by 106 percent between 1988 and 1997, compared with an increase of 83 percent for all girls; and Black girls were detained between 1988 and 1997 at a rate three times greater than the rate for White girls.

Twenty-two-year-old college student Neka Battle believes Black girls are definitely crying out for help, but they are looking to an improper source for direction. 

“Our women are following the men and looking to them for guidance, and this is where they’re leading us.  We‘ve got to catch them younger and lead them in the way of the Lord,” she said.  A thorough understanding and recognition of their roles will enable the girls to set things straight, she added. 

Her friend, Christina Brown, views the matter as one of dependency and survival between girls and boys, and men and women.  The 20-year-old said that although males should not be blamed for the girls’ violent acts, the girls are resorting to manly activities because they feel it is necessary, and sometimes gets boys’ attention. 

Young women must be taught to get back to values and what they want in life, Ms. Brown said, adding that many girls have the wrong impression of what a lady is supposed to be, yet it is difficult to find a real lady to imitate in today’s society.

The situation comes as no surprise to social psychologist Dr. Julia Hare. 

“It’s almost predictable that we would come to this because there’s a breakdown in the Black family,” she stated.

She charged that integration, Hollywood images, the removal of God-centered education and the lack of child discipline in the home all contribute to the rapid criminal demise of not only Black girls, but also Black boys.

Brian Bob, a veteran Los Angeles-based homeless youth counselor, said that overcoming family detachment, which relates to family values, is a critical milestone toward reversing the damage already done to young girls who turn to violence for any reason.

“Granted, parents aren’t with children 24/7, but we need to be as interested in our children as we are in our love lives, the cleanliness of our cars, or our jobs.  People go to great lengths to detail their cars, but do we detail our children?” he questioned.

Mr. Bob believes that media and music are easy blame targets, but said that if the girls do not respect themselves, their bodies, their properties, they certainly cannot respect others, or care to.

The bottom line, he added, is parental guidance, or the lack thereof.  “If these violent acts are not attributable to mental health or something they can’t control, then it’s parental, because parents command the home environment and need to reinforce what is and isn‘t acceptable in it,” he stated.

Dr. Donald Evans, executive director of the National Association of Brothers & Sisters In & Out, an inmate outreach organization, stated that society has overshadowed the home with mass corruption, and parents and families are not totally to blame for the girls’ destructive activities.

“It has a lot to do with the time that we live in, and the information that the children are exposed to at an earlier age.  We can no longer shelter them from all this immorality that society puts out there,” he said.

He believes the calamity facing these unusual suspects stems from school frustrations of miseducation.  It is difficult when conscious, Afro-centric children realize that they do not fit into the Eurocentric system of education and life, and the girls are voicing their frustrations in actions, not words, he added.

Seventeen-year-old Binesha Goodlow said her peers act out because they feel they have to prove themselves to other girls and boys, mostly for respect.  The girls are too far into trouble because of society’s influence, and their actions could easily germinate from their parents’ upbringing, she said.

Binesha has survived her school years without being a victim, or victimizing others, and believes much of that has to do with the fact that she attends a magnet or advanced education school, rather than a public school.

She doubts that educators, churches, or even parents can turn many girls around, and is saddened because she feels it generalizes them all.

The advocates, however, believe that there is hope for the girls, and that basic guidelines and necessities, such as love and attention, could remedy their condition.

Mr. Bob urged parents to hold their children’s respect, and become more aware of their friends and whereabouts.  He also promotes the need for a program designed specifically for the girls because they have specific issues that make them act out.  He labeled their criminal activity a cancer that requires a completely different medicine than that used to treat boys.

When communities embrace treatment and prevention instead of incarceration, Mr. Morris said, girls could tap into protective factors and the ability to be vocal and recognize their worth.  She added that their ability to develop critical thinking skills is crucial, especially in the popular and entertainment climate, which fosters negative ideas of what it means to be Black and female.

The community is so busy surviving, Dr. Evans stated, that it does not have the capacity to provide the protection required for its young girls to grow into unscathed women. 

“Our children are targets from the time they come out of their mother’s womb, and it doesn’t matter that they’re females, because if you can control the female, you can control the growth of our population,” he stated.

Despite the need to focus on Black men, Ms. Morris said, communities cannot forget its little Black girls. 

“It’s said that when you educate a woman you educate a nation.  Then if you incarcerate and victimize a woman, do you do the same to the nation?” she asked.