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*See Jane Hit: Why Girls Are Growing More Violent and What We Can Do About It* by James Garbarino, PhD


See Jane Hit: Why Girls Are Growing More Violent and What We Can Do About It
by James Garbarino, PhD
304 pages Penguin January 2007 Paperback    

See Jane Hit. I think it was bound to happen. If violent images go into the eyes and minds of youth frequently enough over long enough periods of time, they will come back out their mouths, their fists, or their other weapons of choice. In addition, the energy of those images may be magnified before coming forth. These images come through the movie screen, the computer screen, and the TV set into the homes of both boys and girls, affecting them equally. Unfortunately, these youth sometimes also see violence live in their own homes, at school, at birthday parties, or at the local convenience store.

One good example of this violent aggression is the "choking game" that has reached all the way down to first graders in France, USA, and Canada. Children are hanging themselves to experience a "rush" as seen in certain movies and spread by word of mouth as "fun" or "I dare you." Violence is spreading among youth today like wildfire in dry grass, and it is directed not only toward others but toward themselves. James Garbarino does an excellent job of describing this phenomenon in See Jane Hit.

Elementary schoolchildren are watching violent sex, abuse of all kinds, murder, and mayhem on TV and in computer games. Some song lyrics they memorize glorify violence. Certain groups of eight-year-old girls are singing about bitch-slapping someone and, while at birthday parties, they are encouraged to do so by their mothers. We see on the news currently that a mother told her pre-teen daughter to go across the room at such a party and beat another girl for talking to the first girl's "man." No wonder girls are hitting. In addition to this, there is the possibility that females of all ages are simply tired of being abused or disrespected. Alternatively, they may be increasing their successes in all areas of life via physical aggression, because they have seen this work for men and boys. On the other hand, physically aggressive girls may have a lack of support at home and act out violently in outrage. They may also simply be more active in sports and thus, more active and aggressive overall, since Title IX took effect in the USA three decades ago. There are many possible causes and a solution to misplaced or unmanaged aggression is needed.

Encouraging aggression, even Internet job-search sites advertise that Generations X and Y need to "get in everyone's face" to achieve career success. That puts U.S. society just a few paces short of the Star Trek Klingon tradition of the ship's first officer assassinating the boss for his position. The next question is, "If there are a lot of empty slots left by retiring baby boomers, but Generations X and Y go to jail for committing violence in the workplace, who is going to work in America?" Surely, aggressive impulses can be channeled for good, and the author of See Jane Hit gives some suggestions for steering aggression positively.

Some critics of this book feel that the issue of aggression among girls is over-inflated, but I disagree with them. Living in a large metropolitan area with over one million residents, I know that we have over 150 gangs in town, and many of them are girls. Our mayor has made gang violence a priority for remediation equally among boys and girls. Girls have become violent almost as frequently as boys in this place, according to this city's recent arrest records.

The author of See Jane Hit discusses aspects of all of the possibilities for the increasing aggression among girls in the US. James Garbarino, Ph.D., holds the Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He has advised the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, the FBI, and others. He is one of the most knowledgeable American authorities on the subject, and this book is important reading, because childhood and adolescence seem quite different today when compared with those of just 20 years ago. It is important to be knowledgeable of the trends in our society and help to make them good ones, or at least steer them in a positive direction. This is a book that can help do so.

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