AN ASSESSMENT OF RECENT TRENDS IN GIRLS' VIOLENCE USING DIVERSE LONGITUDINAL SOURCES: IS THE GENDER GAP CLOSING?
Applying Dickey-Fuller time series techniques in tandem with intuitive plot-displays, we examine recent trends in girls' violence and the gender gap as reported in four major sources of longitudinal data on youth violence. These sources are arrest statistics of the Uniform Crime Reports, victimization data of the National Crime Victimization Survey (where the victim identifies sex of offender) and self-reported violent behavior of Monitoring the Future and National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. We find that the rise in girls' violence over the past one to two decades as counted in police arrest data from the Uniform Crime Reports is not borne out in unofficial longitudinal sources. Several net-widening policy shifts have apparently escalated girls' arrest-proneness: first, stretching definitions of violence to include more minor incidents that girls in relative terms are more likely to commit; second, increased policing of violence between intimates and in private settings (for example, home, school) where girls' violence is more widespread; and, third, less tolerant family and societal attitudes toward juvenile females. These developments reflect both a growing intolerance of violence in the law and among the citizenry and an expanded application of preventive punishment and risk management strategies that emphasize early identification and enhanced formal control of problem individuals or groups, particularly problem youth.