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Project to examine girls’ violence
A major research project into violent and antisocial behaviour by teenage girls has been launched in the top of the south, which will gather information from more than 4000 teenagers.
The aim of the two-year project is to find out what sort of violence, and antisocial behaviour such as binge drinking, is occurring among girls aged 13 to 17 and what causes it.
The information will be used to develop strategies for preventing and dealing with the behaviour.
The project, called The Girls’ Project, was launched yesterday by Stopping Violence Services Nelson and is being funded through a $200,000 grant from the Lottery Community Sector Research Fund.
Stopping Violence Services Nelson manager Ian Gault said the organisation wanted to prove that violent and antisocial behaviour among teenage girls was a serious issue, and show politicians and funding bodies that funding was needed for intervention programmes specifically designed for teenage girls.
No research like this had been carried out in New Zealand before, he said.
Upper Moutere anthropologist Donna Swift will lead the project, which will involve teenagers from Nelson, Tasman, Marlborough and the West Coast.
Dr Swift developed Turning Point, a pilot project aimed at helping girls and young women deal with anger problems and issues such as self-harm, truancy, alcohol and drug abuse, which ran in Nelson four years ago.
Funding was sought to continue the project, without success.
Dr Swift said yesterday the research project should provide the data needed to secure funding for such programmes.
“Politicians love the numbers,” she said.
Girls’ violence was different from boys’ violence, and girls responded differently to intervention programmes, she said.
An advisor for the project and expert on teenage boys’ behaviour, Celia Lashlie, said girls’ violence was a “burgeoning” problem that involved girls from both poor and wealthy families.
She said she had serious concerns about the way some teenage girls treated their bodies by engaging in activities such as binge drinking and sexual promiscuity.
She said the research would provide valuable information.
Senior Sergeant Ross Lienert, the Tasman police district youth services and family violence co-ordinator, said the police fully supported the project.
“We have a vested interest in understanding and dealing with the issue of girls’ violence and antisocial behaviour.”
He is part of the project’s advisory group.
Dr Swift said the first year of the project would focus on gathering information and the second year on analysing it.
Research assistants were currently being sought to help with the project.
GIRLS AND VIOLENCE
The research project will gather information from: About 3000 year-9 and year-10 students, both male and female, in an anonymous questionnaire about their experiences of violence.
The boys will be surveyed to provide a gender comparison.
It is envisaged that students from 10 different schools will be involved.
About 400 teenage girls in focus groups discussing hypothetical cases of violence.
It is envisaged that the groups will be formed from sports teams, clubs or groups of friends. The discussions will be facilitated by researchers and consent will be sought from the parents of girls aged under 16.
About 100 teenage girls with behavioural issues, in one-on-one interviews with lead researcher Donna Swift.
The girls will not be identified and consent will be sought from the parents of girls aged under 16.
Other teenage girls not surveyed or interviewed, but who want to have their say, via an online questionnaire. The questionnaire will be available on a website currently being developed, called thegirlsproject.org.nz.