J. A. Ryder – Girls and violence: Tracing the roots of criminal behavior – Rezensiert von: Fabienne Coenders

Ryder, J. A. (2014);  Girls and violence: Tracing the roots of criminal behavior. ; Lynne Rienner Publishers, Incorporated. ISBN: 978-1-58826-838-9, 170 Seiten, €27.50

In her book „Girls and Violence: Tracing the Roots of Criminal Behavior“, associate prof. Judith Ryder [1] describes and analyses the turbulent lives of 24 young girls between the ages of 13 and 16 who have, in one way or another, gone from being victimized into becoming the victimizer. Her (secondary) in-depth analysis of the underlying mechanisms of how and why girls turn to violence is especially welcomed in a world where, “despite considerable recent advances in the study of female offending”, these issues “still [remain] relatively understudied” (Ryder, 2014; p. ix).

It must be noted, however, that the interviews were conducted in New York and stem from the mid-1990s, as part of the Learning About Violence and Drugs Among Adolescents [LAVIDA] study. Not only are the data outdated, the time and place in which the interviewed girls grew up is also marked by very specific characteristics: “Born in the early 1980s into neighborhoods with limited access to services, resources, and power, the girls grew up in the vortex of the crack cocaine era. Most lived at the epicenter of the trade – New York City – and several are the daughters of the first-generation of female crack users.” This makes for a very interesting, yet clear-cut group of interviewees and thus the implications of this book may only refer to individuals in similar circumstances.

Ryder (2014, p. ix) marks two aspects of her study as original and important: “One is the in-depth focus not just on violence committed by females, but, more specifically, on females who are so young and whose violent behaviour has already landed them in the deep and of the juvenile justice system. […]. A second distinguishing feature of the study is the way it is grounded in and furthers developmental theory.” The latter shows greatly from her work, which, in spite of the abundant and extensive theory descriptions, manages to keep a clear structure and makes for pleasant read. Personally, I would have found it suiting to address parenting style theories (especially as theorized by D. Baumrind) in the theoretical framework when addressing parental bonds in chapter three.

Ryder concludes her book with practical implications for a better understanding and handling of girls who have turned or may turn to violence in the future, greatly emphasizing the importance of acknowledging the environment these girls grow up in. After reading her book, the proposed solutions are corollary and may seem like truisms every now and again. Nonetheless, it provides a good sum up of the work that is left to be done to keep girls from violence.

[1] Judith A. Ryder is associate professor of sociology at St. John’s University. She was also the senior project director of the federally funded study, LAVIDA, from which the data for her book stem.

Rezensiert von: Fabienne Coenders