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Why Girls FightFemale Youth Violence in the Inner City$
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Cindy D. Ness

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814758403

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814758403.001.0001

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Girls’ Violent Behavior as Viewed from the Streets

Girls’ Violent Behavior as Viewed from the Streets

(p.45) 3 Girls’ Violent Behavior as Viewed from the Streets
Why Girls Fight

Cindy D. Ness

NYU Press

This chapter provides a sense of what girls' violence “looks like from the street” by focusing on how girls in the Melrose Park and Lee neighborhoods experience causing physical harm, as well as the meanings they assign to doing so. It also considers the factors that drive a girl to engage in a fight, how girls construct and negotiate elements of identity and status through the practice of physical violence, and what instrumental value that engaging in violence has for them. It shows how fighting solidifies peer relations for girls and allows them to express their youthful exuberance. Moreover, it discusses the involvement of the criminal justice system in the life of a girl and the ways that street fighting serves as a kind of proving ground for girls to build up a sense of invulnerability and fearlessness.

Keywords:   girls' violence, girls, physical harm, criminal justice system, street fighting, invulnerability, fearlessness, physical violence, Melrose Park neighborhood, Lee neighborhood

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