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Why a Girls Violence Prevention Forum

Girls Violence Prevention
By Bernell Hooker

Images of Us (IOU) Sports is inviting girls ages 13 - 18 to our gender responsive forum offering girls a safe place to be with other girls.

The goal of this event is to teach girls about healthy balanced relationships. Additionally, this event will empower girls to assess their friendships and relationships and make informed decisions by asking the question, "If I were a Boy?"

Athletic participation plays an important role in the lives of many girls. Yet the complex relationship between sports participation, aggression and health risk behaviors at this crucial developmental period remains misunderstood. Society doesn't always make room for the idea of violent girls, but it’s there. In 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 40% of boys admitted to having carried a gun, a knife or been in at least one physical fight in the previous year. But the girls were not far behind, at 25%. 

In 2007, according to the Status of Girls in Wisconsin report, girls are less likely than boys to report physical fighting. In 2005, 7% of Wisconsin high school girls reported getting into a physical fight at school at least once in the preceding year, compared to 17% of their male counterparts in the state and about 9% of female high school students nationally. In addition, the report states Wisconsin girls are less likely to meet recommended levels of physical activity than are Wisconsin boys or girls nationally.

Sports participation has been offered as an antidote to adolescent risk-taking. Sports provide a setting in which a girls time is structured and supervised but also has substantial incentives not to take chances with their health and well-being. Sports help to build leadership, self-esteem, confidence, and a sense of commitment for providing personal and social resources to better deal with the trials of adolescence.

The Women’s Sports Foundation states, that there is no research that shows that boys are more interested in sports than girls. They do know that girls are just as interested in sports as boys when they are young. A combination of lack of opportunity, lack of peer group support when they do play sports and lack of encouragement causes them to drop out of sports at a rate that is six times greater than boys.

So, why a girls violence prevention forum? The reality is that girls and young women experience a whole range of violence. They are also survivors of violence and are taking action against it. Part of that action is educating themselves about domestic violence, bullying and prevention.

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me." Too bad this saying isn't true. If you've ever been the target of harsh and unkind words, you know how hurtful they can be. But did you also know that repeated teasing is a form of bullying? And that's not the only kind of bullying there is

What is Bullying…
Bullying is when one person or a group of people scare or hurt someone else over and over again. Bullies hurt others who are often weaker or less confident. Bullying is often done on purpose and it can happen anywhere, such as at school, in the park, on a sports team, or even at home. Often the person being bullied has a hard time defending herself.

There are many types of bullying. Bullying can be:
Ø Leaving someone out of group activities on purpose.
Ø Giving someone the “silent treatment.”
Ø Using the Internet, IMs, text messages, and/or e-mail to hurt others (also called cyberbullying).
Ø Making faces and/or bad gestures with your hands at someone.
Ø Using a person to get something you want, such as making friends with someone who is smart just so they can do your homework for you.
Ø Making fun of someone for being “different.”
Ø Forcing someone to do something embarrassing or dangerous in order to join a sports team or social group (also called hazing).
Ø Name-calling, teasing, gossiping, and/or spreading rumors.
Ø Hair pulling, biting, and pinching.
Ø Threatening and scaring others.
Ø Hitting, punching, and shoving.

Bullying doesn’t just happen between girls. Did you know that sometimes adults bully kids? This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen sometimes. Bullying can happen when one person has power over another person. Teachers and coaches have power over students. Anytime a person hurts another person on purpose (either with words or actions), over and over again, this is bullying.

Also, girls sometimes bully boys. Girls may call a boy “gay” or hit a boy because they know he can’t hit them back.   In all of these examples, bullying is wrong.

Tips for Parents

  • Involve girls in activities outside of school so they are exposed to different types of people. 
  • Encourage relationships with adults and other children who appreciate them for what they are
  • Be available to listen and don’t downplay the importance of an incident
  • Teach kindness and model that behavior
  • Talk about both sides of an issue.  Girls may tell you about being a victim but not talk about being the aggressor
  • If your daughter is caught in the middle, encourage her to take the high road and support the victim, or at least not take part in the aggression
  • If necessary, see professional counseling.
  • Become computer savvy.
  • Do not allow your child to have a computer in their room or other isolated area.  If they have laptops, set guidelines for where they can use it and the length of time they can use it.
  • Be aware of the online activities of your child
  • Research filtering and parental control programs for your computer
  • Involve your daughter in sports activities…

If you are a bit of a “tomboy“ and always seem to want to play with the boys at the park, go for the more competitive sports. Enroll in either co-ed or all-girl sports such as softball, soccer, basketball, field hockey, or track. Let’s not forget football! Even if you consider yourself a “girly-girl,” you can enjoy participating in sports as well. Dance, Double Dutch and cheerleading often are overlooked when considering sports, but they are physically demanding and are excellent forms of exercise.


·         Girls
·         Women’s Sports Foundation
Click Here more information on how to sign your group up for the IOU Sports Girls Violence Prevention Forum, “If I were a Boy.”

Helen Bader Foundation
Alverno College Research Center for Women and Girls
Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee
Contributing Sponsor
Bernell Hooker

Bernell Hooker is the Founder and CEO of Images of Us (IOU) Sports; a non-profit organization that empowers girls and women through education and sports. "Think of yourself as an athlete. I guarantee you it will change the way you walk, the way you work, and the decisions you make about leadership, teamwork, and success." - Mariah Burton Nelson