Fights spark concern about social media

February 4th, 2010 by – A growing problem among teen girls is raising concern about their well-being. More and more of them are getting into violent fights, and more often than not, those fights are showing up online.

It’s the talk of the town in Lowell, Massachusetts right now. Police there are investigating several videos recently posted on the internet of girls fighting tooth and nail on the city’s streets. It’s not just Lowell, Mass.

Perhaps one of the most famous girl fights broke out in the Bay Area: the videotaped beating of 16-year-old Victoria Lindsay in Polk County. The girls involved said the attack was payback for trash talk on MySpace. They planned to post it on YouTube, home to thousands of female fights just like it.

“It’s not something pretty,” said Sophomore Tahira Angueira. “We’re girls. We’re supposed to be graceful, elegant, not fighting, taking off your high heels and beating somebody’s butt.”

Tahira Angueira and her friends say the drama between girls plays out in every hallway, every classroom at their high school.

“They involve themselves in so much ignorance and then all the girls see it and they think it’s cool. ‘Oh, look at that girl fighting. But, I can beat her better and this and this and this,’” said Angela Torres.

Psychologists say girl fighting has become part of the popularity contest.

“If you show the most viciousness or the most tendency to be aggressive, sometimes that gets a lot of mileage. It’s like ‘she’s the toughest.,” said Dr. Valerie McClain.

She says social media like MySpace and Facebook fuels the fire.

“I think it plays a huge role. I think everybody is on everybody else’s Facebook finding out what’s going on with them and vicariously living through that person,” said McClain.

Angueira is on both MySpace and Facebook. She says she’s had girls try to start stuff.

“I got into a fight with my best best friend. We made two years being best friends. Her sister went and commented on my picture ‘you look pretty ugly. Stop trying to be like my sister.’ And I’m like ok, whatever,” she explained.

Last April, a brawl between teen girls erupted at a Tampa park. Someone posted the violent video on-line. The biggest shocker of all: adults seen joining in.

“A lot of it goes back to the home life. The parental structure, the role modeling with the parents,” said McClain.

She says communication between parents and children is key. She suggests parents take an active role in encouraging their kids in sports, activities, and academics as a way to promote positive behavior.

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