Analysis Between Good and the Ghetto

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The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) article and reading excerpts from Between Good and the Ghetto by Nikki Jones and Girls in Trouble with the Law by Laurie Schaffner address the dilemmas faced by young girls who grow up in poverty stricken neighborhoods with regards to violence and societal norms on the expected behavior of girls. In addition, statistics are reported to reflect the rise in female juvenile violence. Overall, these authors made three key points about girls and violence. The first is that girls exposed to a violent environment in many ways need to grow up with a ‘survival mentality,’ i.e. needing to learn how to fight to defend themselves. Secondly, all sources consistently report that one key factor as to why girls fight has to do with respect or, more accurately, a perceived lack of respect. Finally, though statistics seem to indicate that there may be a rise in violent behavior amongst girls, closer examination of the data points to changes in legislation or policy activity accounting for the reported increase. When speaking about the unique experience of growing up a girl in inner-cities, Jones says, “Inner-city girls who live in distressed neighborhoods face a gendered dilemma: they must learn how to effectively manage potential threats of interpersonal violence at the risk of violating mainstream and local expectations regarding appropriate feminine behavior (9).” Both Schaffner and the OJJDP article concur that one of the reasons it is so difficult for people to accept violent behaviors in girls is because this concept is so contrary to the gender norms. The belief that girls are supposed to be “good”, “polite”, and grow up to be “respectable” is prevalent even in inner-cities and other violent neighborhoods. Yet, these types of behaviors are often not practical. In interviews with young ladies conducted by both Jones and Schaffner, girls repeatedly indicated that violence was unavoidable. In school...
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