Teenage Girls, Physical Violence, YouTube, and our Culture


So…I’m sure by now you all have heard the news story and seen the attendant video of the cheerleader in Lakeland, Florida who was lured into a “friend’s” home and then severely beaten by that friend and other cheerleaders. All of this for basically talking smack over MySpace (cyberbullying?) about those friends. So what we have is a vivid depiction of six girls who carefully coordinated (with two male lookouts and everything) a vicious attack (to where she suffered a concussion and fell unconscious) on an unsuspecting girl at a home where no parents were around…and where she was detained with no freedom to leave…and where the violence was recorded for the purposes of uploading it to YouTube and MySpace…. Then she was taken in a car, dropped off at some random location, and threatened with more beatings if she went to the authorities.
Points to consider:
1. What is the deal with these girls being so horrifically violent? Is this not out of the ordinary, but seems so because the recording has so starkly shown us the hostility and aggression of which some girls are capable? Is it possible that girls are actually *just as prone to violence* as boys (not withstanding testosterone and so forth) but have been constrained by social acceptability…but perhaps those standards are eroding or fading or being diluted as the years go by?
2. Is our culture being desensitized to female violence? For example, you turn on The Real World on MTV and we are seeing more frequently verbal violence and even physical violence among girls.
3. Were the girls playing to the camera…performing, if you will? Were they, to some degree, looking for their 15 minutes of fame by recording themselves in this video?
4. What were the girls thinking, in terms of escaping identification, apprehension, and punishment, with the recording of the criminal assault?
5. Are the parents at fault?
6. Has anyone seen the MySpace postings, as I’d like to consider their contents?
7. Has anyone figured out how to download flash video, because I’d like to archive those videos linked from that site to show others?

Article and unedited video here (link defunct).


  1. Hmmm… I disagree with HnK on this one. I really believe that if these were boys we would still here the rhetoric of the possibility of life sentences. I find it really hard to believe that they are being treated differently (both by the media and by the courts – at least so far) because they are girls. Clearly that makes it more shocking for some, but I doubt they will get a harsher sentence because of their gender.

    It will be interesting to see the punishment they actually get. They will not get life in prison. Believe me – I just don't see that happening.

  2. This is unbelievable:

    Suspects in Video Beating Could Get Life in Prison

    Life in prison?! Come on.

    Don't tell me that sex/gender doesn't come into play here. Can you imagine a group of teen boys facing a life sentence for this same scenario? I don't think so. No matter how "animalistic" the attack was — and I'm not suggesting it wasn't horrific, because it was — this type of behavior isn't an affront to established sex/gender roles when it is perpetrated by boys. But when girls do it, it's potentially worth a life sentence? I don't even know what to say. Of course I understand that the suspects are facing felony kidnapping charges, but the whole "they could get life behind bars!" thing reeks of: (a) overly-zealous punishment in an effort to make an example of these girls, and (b) a reaction more to their non-conformity to traditional gender roles with respect to violent behavior. I agree that the fact that they videotaped the beating adds a whole additional level of depravity to the whole thing….but a life sentence? That's just absurd.

  3. Gangs are also infilitrating YouTube and MySpace and using its tools to recruit kids into their gangs as well as using forums like Youtube to publicize their crimes. A gang that used the internet as a way to broadcast their crimes was the Lake Worth gang Top 6. Top 6 first started off with the guise that they were a rap group; they started using Youtube and MySpace to post all their rap videos. After time it escalated into posting videos of them beating up people and various other crimes. Some videos even showed them simulating how they would kill cops. All this was posted on MySpace and Youtube for the world to see. The former top members of the gang have since been arrested; investigators used the online videos that were posted on the Top 6 pages to connect the men to the crimes they committed. A lot of the gang members also said they weren’t part of the gang but the online videos said otherwise. Even though these gang members are misusing the social networking sites for their advantage, these same social networks helped to put them in jail.

  4. In June 2010, an 11-year old Florida girl self-subscribed as ‘Jessi Slaughter’ made national news about a YouTube video that she made. After experiencing constant instances of cyberbullying, the young girl, whose real name is Jessica Leonhardt, decided to take revenge into her own hands. The bullying was said to have began with postings aimed at her alleged sexual history. Jessica posted several online videos on YouTube, threatening to kill her online tormentors. These videos were profanity-laced and led to death threats and a psychological evaluation of her. Jessica however, told GMA that she never meant to act on her threats. State police decided to complete an investigation regarding Jessica’s alleged bullying and sent Jessica to a mental health facility. This story is one of many of how adolescents use technologies such as YouTube to both harass, threaten, or where they may experience cyberbullying. One good aspect about this site is that authorities are able to monitor the videos and step in immediately if such a situation occurs.

  5. Lots of people get bullied in my school. I used to get bullied alot. Mow my friend is also getting cyberbullied. What should I tell her?

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