Why do we worry more if girls riot?

A BBC video of two girls who took part in Monday night's riots in Croydon reveals a gulf that is opening up between some young people and wider society, says the chair of the British Psychological Society’s Psychology of Women Section.

Professor Christine Horrocks from the University of Bradford says that we should be more concerned about this than the fact that the rioters were female.

Commenting on the footage, in which the two girls, who were drinking  wine looted from a local shop at 09:30 on Tuesday morning, said they were showing police and "the rich" that "we can do what we want", Professor Horrocks said:

“There is an interesting level of outrage and shock to find that girls are part of this tirade of lawlessness spreading across the country. Why would this be? Young men and women experience similar levels of peer pressure and youth disadvantage but are we less shocked by somewhat anticipated expressions of male dissatisfaction, revelry and disorder? Instead of spending energy on simplistic gender stereotypes let’s ask questions about why these girls appeared to have such a limited knowledge of who is running their country.”

Professor Horrocks went on to say that psychologists cannot ignore the reality that that behaviour is learnt in a world that young people did not create. She asked if we have taken enough care of our young people and whether they are an easy target when it comes to spending cuts.

“What has been said, and is undeniable, is that many of the young people out on the streets, and their families, have life chances which have been severely limited by successive government policies that have consistently disadvantaged those already in need.  This does not excuse or justify unbridled criminality but given that it is, in general, the young of our society engaged in such behaviour serious questions emerge around the world they occupy and how such actions came about.”

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