Girls Fight Differently Than Boys
Tue Jun 8, 2004

TUESDAY, June 8 (HealthDayNews) -- Retaliation for previous conflicts is more likely to fuel violent incidents among preteen girls than among boys of the same age, according to a Children's Hospital of Philadelphia study.

Researchers surveyed 190 children, aged 8 to 14, who came to the hospital's emergency department to be treated for injuries caused by interpersonal violence.

For both girls and boys, the most common reason for a fight was teasing or "being disrespected." In contrast to incidents between boys, clashes between girls were more often a recurrence of a previous fight.

Compared to boys, violence among girls was more likely to occur at home and it was more likely a family member would intervene to stop the violence.

The study also found weapons were present more often in incidents involving at least one girl and that girls were more likely than boys to be injured by a weapon, especially blunt objects such as sticks or rocks.

Only five of the 190 children in the study suffered firearm injuries.

The study appears in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

"While much further research remains to be done on interpersonal violence involving children, this study provides information for parents and caregivers," study first author Dr. Cynthia J. Mollen, an emergency medicine physician, said in a prepared statement.

"For instance, because 'disrespect' appears so prominently as a trigger for violence, children and parents could benefit by learning techniques for responding to perceived insults in a nonviolent manner. We know from previous research that a parent's attitude about appropriate triggers for violence has an effect on children's behavior," Mollen said.

"In addition, because girls were more likely to suffer retaliation as a reason for violence, health-care providers could screen injured girls about their safety concerns and their plans for retaliation. Understanding gender differences in violent behavior could help us in designing school-based and community intervention programs for children in this age group," she said.

More information
The American Psychological Association has advice on how to reduce childhood violence.