When it comes to violence against women, “Australia Says No”. But what happens when women are the ones committing these crimes against other women?
Tuesday night’s armed assault against a 35-year-old woman at Glenroy Railway Station in Melbourne by two young females highlights the rapid growth of crimes in Australia committed by women against women.
This incident occurred only months after a woman pleaded guilty to charges around encouraging her daughter and three friends to violently attack a 16-year-old mentally disabled girl at St Albans and posted footage of the violence on YouTube. Other female crimes committed against women during the preceding year include the alleged murder of a legally blind 65-year-old woman by 25-year-old Amber Cooper in Bairnsdale.
A survey conducted by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research in 2008 showed the number of girls aged 10-17 allegedly involved in criminal offenses soared from 3622 in 1998 to 5724 that year. The figures have caused speculation over why more young women are becoming violent, particularly against other women.
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Professor Kerry Carrington, head of the School of Justice at Queensland University of Technology, wrote in her recently released book Offending Youth, Sex and Crime that cyber bullying accounted for the alarming increase in female youth violence. Professor Carrington draws her observations from more than 45 years of adolescent crime statistics, which suggest that young female delinquency is on the rise.
Yet Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, expert in adolescent psychology, points the finger at the media and today’s role models projected at young women. Dr Carr-Gregg believes that dysfunctional or substance abusive celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears are to blame for the surge in young women’s unruly behaviour.
Dr Carr-Gregg also suggests parents are responsible for their daughters turning to violence. He says many parents are suffering from “surrender parent syndrome”, where parents take the back seat and allow television to teach their children about appropriate behaviour and morality.
The question over whether physical violence committed by women starts in the family home is supported by a similar trend in the rise of family violence cases where teenage girls are the perpetrators. Police statistics show that such cases have increased by 30% from 2003 to 2007. These statistics also profile perpetrators who are not necessarily stereotypically aggressive girls, but rather girls who come from dysfunctional families and who have experienced abuse or neglect at home.
However, unsurprisingly, these family violence cases committed by women are usually directed at other women. Family psychologist Eddie Gallagher’s research concludes that, in most cases of domestic violence conducted by young girls, the mother is the victim.
It might be time for the government’s National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women to be directly aimed at the same s-x.