Girls, peer violence, and restorative justice
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Drawing on the South Australia Juvenile Justice (SAJJ) project dataset, this article analyses youth peer violence ('punch-ups') with a focus on girl-on-girl assaults. My aim is to address and explain significant gaps in the empirical knowledge of gender and restorative justice, and in the aspirations and reality of restorative justice itself. Four points are made. First, of all the offence categories, the male and female punch-ups showed the least degree of offender remorse, positive movement between offender and victim, and victim satisfaction; and they showed the greatest degree of victim revictimisation and more negative outcomes of the conference process. This occurs because offenders may 'admit' to offending, but deny that their actions are wrong. Second, simple gender comparisons of offender and victim orientations in a restorative process are likely to produce misleading results, unless they are keyed to particular offence categories. Third, for girls' punch-ups, the status of 'victim' and 'offender' is contested, with both protagonists seeing themselves as 'victims' (or as 'nonoffenders'). Fourth, although some offending girls say their violence is justified, their female victims are hurt and traumatized, some with significant long-term effects. Implications are drawn for feminist analyses of girls' violence and for ethical practices of restorative justice.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology
Copyright 2008 Australian Academic Press. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.