Girl Fight: Female Against Female Violence and Victimization Among Mexican American Adolescents

Rebecca D. Petersen, University of Texas - San Antonio

This paper is part of a Center for Disease Control (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control funded study, based on 150 life history interviews and field observations of females associated with 27 different male gangs. Of significant note of this study, is the sampling methodology based upon random community sampling which sets it apart from previous investigations of violence and delinquency among adolescents. In addition, this study is unique in that it exclusively involves young Mexican American women (ages 14-18), a population that has been generally excluded from the literature. Contrary to some studies that depict females' perpetration of violence as a response to their own victimization, this study portrays women as both the aggressors and the victims of violent episodes. The study examines the factors involved in female against female violence including victim-offender relationships and weapon use as well as extenuating (e.g. drug-use or self-defense) and precipitating circumstances. Using qualitative and quantitative data, the study focuses on and describes the situational and contextual elements of female perpetrated violence in schools and neighborhoods. We argue that in order to better understand female perpetrators of violence, we must consider the impact of peer relationships and community characteristics within the violent situations. The study contributes to the investigation of the motives and origins of female violent behavior.

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Updated 05/20/2006