Chapter 29: Moral Panic and the Nasty Girl
The Effects of the Moral Panic on Policy-Making
- while harsh legal policy is aimed at incapacitating both violent boys and girls, informal mechanisms of control targeting young girls in particular have also resulted
from the panic over girl violence
- these mechanisms, however, did not emerge from within the centre of the criminal justice apparatus; rather , they evoked at the margins of society, through the
work of social agencies, activists, and experts who helped create a consensus about the problem of girl violence
− these programs illustrate the profound change in current crime control policy Garland foresaw: 'The new programmes of action are directed not toward individual
offenders, but toward the conduct of potential victims, to vulnerable situations, and to those routines of everyday life which create criminal opportunities as an
unintended by-product. Hence, we need to understand the moral panic about the violent girl or youth in general as a process that leads not only to the containment
and transformation of violent girls and boys, but also to the increased self-discipline and regulation of all youths, who learn to think of themselves as potential
victims of bullying'
− to summarize, the policies and programs stemming from the moral panic about violent girls include repressive measures towards violent youth that are deployed
by the crime-control apparatus
− they also include more informal mechanisms of crime control directed at society, which are deployed by a 'government-at-a-distance'
− while repressive measures stem from traditional crime-control agencies, such as the police or prisons, informal control operates rather indirectly or 'at a distance'
by fostering the co-operation of non-state organizations and private individuals
− through the actions of various experts involved in the fight against bullies, parents, teachers, young people, and specifically, girls are encouraged to become
responsible and prudent individuals
− to this effect, policies and programs seek to make them recognize their responsibility by reducing crime and persuade them to change their behaviour to reduce
Why Is the Panic Happening Today?
− why did the reaction to girl violence take the particular form and intensity it did during the late 1990s?
− the moral panic literature emphasizes that, during a panic, the anxieties the public experiences are real, but their reaction is often misplaced
− hence, the object of the panic, the violent girl, is not always the source of people's anxiety
− in psychoanalytical terms, she is more likely to be the object of a projection, rather than the source of concern and fear
− according to Young, the transition from modernity (the 'Golden Age of the post-war period) to the present late modernity (late 1960s and onwards) resulted in
significant structural and psychological changes that produced social anxieties
− the shift primarily entailed a movement from an inclusive to an exclusive society: from a society that incorporated its members and enjoyed full (male) employment,
rising affluence, stable families and conformity, to an exclusive society arising from changes in the labour force
− these changes included a shift from a more social-based, communitarian labour force to one of individualism stemming from the new knowledge-based,