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The Beat Generation

If you’re one of those shocked by the MySpace-posted video of three New York teens pummeling a classmate, you may not be aware of a trend that psychologists have highlighted for years: outrageous behavior among American girls. MySpace was also the place where a clique of Texas cheerleaders posted photos of themselves flashing the camera and imbibing alcohol. And, last May, a brawl erupted after a high school girls’ soccer game in Illinois. According to the most recent federal statistics, the number of assault arrests for girls rose 41 percent between 1992 and 2003, whereas the increase for boys was just 4.3 percent. The Harvard School of Public Health, citing violent and misogynistic images in the media, reports that girls are “increasingly turning to physical violence to solve their problems.” And Howard Spivak, director of the Tufts University Center for Children, adds that such behavior “seems to be related ... to the change in the kinds of role models and behaviors that we’re defining as acceptable for girls.” So, who’s to blame? As usual, the problem starts at home, according to yet another report, stating: “The initial causes of violence are found in the early learning experiences in the family, which includes weak family bonding and ineffective monitoring and supervision.”

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