The number of teenage girls who are physically aggressive and lash out at school and at home has risen at an alarming rate, experts claimed yesterday. More and more girls are binge drinking and – tired of being regarded as the passive sex – are emulating male behaviour. The disturbing trend has been noted by the British Association of Anger Management, which is dealing with increasing numbers of ‘out-of-control’ and aggressive young women.
The association’s findings echo statistics which found the ‘ladette’ yob culture was on the rise, with 200 women convicted of violent crime every week. The number of women found guilty of murder, vicious assault or other attacks has risen by 81 per cent since 1998. Leading anger management psychotherapist Mike Fisher said there was a strong link between the rise in binge-drinking among young girls and their physical aggression.
He said: ‘Girls are generally better at dealing with their feelings, whereas boys keep it inside. However, when girls drink they are anaesthetising their feelings. ‘Suddenly they are not able to cope with their emotions appropriately, but that anger has to go somewhere. ‘Unlike their mothers, who perhaps did not drink as much, they become violent.’
Speaking ahead of Anger Awareness Week, which begins on Wednesday, Mr Fisher said: ‘The girls we are dealing with in schools are increasingly physically aggressive.They are tired of being pushed around by boys and they are fighting back.
‘They are fed up with being the passive sex.’Charity Parentline Plus reported that half of the calls it received from parents about their children’s extreme verbal and physical aggression related to girls. One mother said her 15-year-old daughter had done ‘exactly as she wants’ for six months, returning home from school late at night and disappearing over the weekend. She said: ‘This morning because I wouldn’t take to school and buy her some tobacco, she flew into a rage, threw everything off my sideboard, smashed a glass and ripped a towel rail off the wall.’
Mr Fisher said it was increasingly socially acceptable for young girls to vent their frustration in this way. ‘Particularly in some of the inner-city schools we are visiting, it is seen as a sign of strength. Girls feel the need to “hold their own” and fight back if they are taunted by the boys. They are standing up for themselves, but just not in the right way.’Simon Lawton Smith, of the Mental Health Foundation, said girls faced many modern-day challenges which could lead to anger issues.
He said: ‘Girls face a new generation of potential triggers for problems such as premature sexualisation, commercialisation and alcohol misuse, and also some of the more long-standing issues like bullying and family breakdown. All these things can be triggers for anger.’
Mr Lawton Smith called for more anger management in schools. He said: ‘We know that much problem anger is left untackled in the UK. ‘We need to ensure that access to such support is widely available to people of all ages. ‘A clear commitment to research, information and education in this neglected area is essential, including anger management in schools. ‘This should include measures to reduce stigma and fear around admitting to problem anger.’