Multiple studies have demonstrated that girls are engaging in interpersonal violence. However, little is known about the potentially unique aspects of violent events involving girls.
To describe characteristics of interpersonal violence events in preadolescents and young adolescents and to determine if events involving any girl are different than those involving only boys.
A cross-sectional survey of 8- to 14-year-old patients who were being evaluated at an urban children's hospital emergency department for injuries caused by interpersonal violence was conducted between September 2000 and August 2001. The survey asked the patient to describe details about event circumstances, opponents, weapon use, and injury severity.
We enrolled 190 patients into the study; 58 (31%) were girls. Seventy-four events (39%) had a girl involved, 156 (82%) occurred on a weekday, 127 (67%) were classified as fights, 140 (74%) were with a known opponent, and 93 (49%) occurred at school. Events involving girls were more likely than events involving all boys to occur at home (relative risk [RR], 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0-2.5). Both boys and girls reported "being disrespected" and "teasing" as popular reasons for a fight. Events involving girls were more commonly related to a "recurrence of a previous fight" (RR, 6.4; 95% CI, 1.9-21.5), were more likely to end because of adult intervention (RR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.1-2.6), and have a family member try to physically break up the fight (RR, 3.7; 95% CI, 1.5-9.1).
Violent events involving preadolescent and early adolescent girls are more likely to be in response to a previous event and to involve the home environment and family member intervention. Health care professionals should screen violently injured girls for safety concerns and retaliation plans and consider engaging the family in efforts to prevent future events.