Straßensozialarbeit in Berlin

Youths violence = violence by male youths


Thoughts about the role of girls and young women in the field of street work with remarkable, groups of youths that are ready for violence.

The question about the girls at work is in general usually the question about groups of girls, which become remarkable like the boys through their behaviours and their readiness to violence. But there are hardly such groups of girls. Thus the laconic answer in the street work is usually:
“Girls occur. Our groups are boys-dominated.”
Girls are, if at all, girlfriends of the boys or as “appendage” integrated into the groups. As such they are rarely being noticed on their own sake in the street work and frequent in the youth work and welfare.
We carry out work with girls above all, where social female workers continuously engage themselves, often also against the obligations of the daily work in a male dominated field of work.
Gender specific work withinstreet work is not to be reduced however to the question of work of social female workers with girls. The complexity of this topic, the contradictoriness of the professional discussion and the rarely existing realistic possibilities of gender specific working on the road on a long-term basis are the conflicts. We have to confront us with the question about the approach of street work with girls who are together with remarkable and ready for violence youths. There is a new girl project and the girls don’t want to take part. They want to remain with “their” boys. With “their” boys, saying things like “cracks out” are to be heard pretty often. The competitive behaviour of these girls among themselves pretty often frighten us, us the youths workers by their conservative conceptional role, the conceptions of their later life, their (apparently) subordination to the boys in the group. The term of accepting youth work doesn’t seem to have become generally accepted in the work with girls. These girls are not the target group for (male dominated) youth policy in this era of special programs against (male dominated) juvenile delinquency. They are not a target group for (again increasing?) children-kitchen-cosmetic-movement (finally they fluctuate in youth violence scenes). They aren’t in addition also the target group for the feminist movement.
Girls are still perhaps the most accepted possiblity making male youths stop by their female influence with violence and penalty. Thus girls seem to be nearly state-basic, if one considers the threat shouting of the society towards youths. But they aren’t the targeted group. But as already said, they are not noticed for the sake of themselves. They are reserved and silly. They allow more a (good-looking) male social worker to adress them than a female social worker.
They are not represented in times of administrative “economical” reforms: A male social worker can work along without problem free with up to ten boys. If a female social worker attempts to reach at least three girls, then that’s much. Many girls have experienced violence, with which the society can deal only with difficulty; and if they get drunk senselessly and exercise violence, the society can’t deal with it without difficulty. If we discuss about gender specific approaches in the street work, the discussion is preprogrammed. That has something to do with our “job order”, with our in each regard male dominated place of work, with our different points of view – however it has also somehow to do with us as women in this field of work. Usually it seems to be easy for us to master violence, martial gestures produced by the boys which are as well open and communicative. Our (few) theses to work with girls in street work are not jet answers. They are maybe an approach for urgently necessary discussions on this item; perhaps they are for many aperson also a provocation:
1. Under the keyword “violence by youths groups” became almost exclusively the negative, for uninvolved persons often alarming aspects of the group-dynamic processes within juvenile groupings that’s getting the focus of the public.
In this connext, it’s rather evaluated understandly positively that girls in these groups hardly play a role.
Marginal attention is paid on on this judgement that these group processes can be understood as normal juvenile behaviour, which sometimes also abrupt are detached from the family, try to conquer public areas, which are in need of self-manifestation and self production as well need the protection of a group and the relations in a group of peers. These experiences are constututive for juvenile socialization and in during the period of growing up as important for mals as for female youths.
What is missing to the girls “… to a large extent, is the lack of risk experiences with own self and gang formation, which is typical for the the boys in this age”.
Girls have “… hardly need to prove their place in the world through fights and courage samples. … The lack of risk experience and injuries (through which the body gets experience such as self healing strength, elasticity and tenacity) flows together with the sexualisation as an object….” (refere Carol Hagemann-White).
2. Consequence of this unbalaced youth group discussion doesn’t reflect only on the public opinion, but also on the financing mechanisms in youth work.
Particularly the financing of so-called “youth violence projects” it is set to calm and satisfy the public. Politically demanded success criterion for these projects is usually the decliningness (likewise youths-dominated) of the statistics concerning youths violence groups.
In times of permanent cuts in support is a conscious decision for differentiated work with girls on the street not also undisputable, because it binds manpower, which are anyway already more than exhausted when a team of three female street workers has to deal with a district with up to 400.000 inhabitants.
Nevertheless who reaches otherwise girls, who reject created niches specially in form of special girl projects?
3. Street work with youth groups doesn’t simply imply getting the troublesome youths from the street and keep them in another places.
Since in our work with the groups, the aspect of group affiliation is to the fore, it’s impossible to prevent the cooperative work of boys and girls together.
Gender specific approaches line themselves thus in altogether behind co-educative approaches.
In this connext it’s obviously difficult to evaluate and successfully estimate the situation of girls within the group with a “interior view”.
To be considered must not only be which position the girls have presently in the group, but also, which means of self statement towards other group members, regarding determined hierarchies etc. have been achieved by individual girls.
Above all is to be considered, if the apparent degree of disregard girls put up with boys, draws our lack of understanding. With “authentic”, in this case probably reproachful behaviour towards the girls, it will be hardly possible to develop a trustful relationship to them.
4. The girls, with whom we confront on the street, represent very frequently pretty conservative role samples.
Simultaneous they reflect a handful of acknowledgment and attention, which they experience by the boys in the group.
“We see watchin these women clearly: They accept the gender ratio, they submit to male dominance, they allow themselves to be functionalised by these men. The prohibition of power and aggression in the socialisation of females (girls and young women) leads to the projection of their aggression on men, namely male youths.
They allow so to say to fight, to triumph, to take rigorous actions.
They react merely in the sense of traditional gender role expectation: self-devaluation of women, support and revaluation of men and their acts. Their wages: sharing of power, increase in value through “belonging to” (refer Christine Holzkamp).
In this description, which quite reflects our practical experiences becomes among other things clearly, to which extend we with our reflections about work with girls in our work go.
Since we in a realistic way have to assume that we can’t break solidified social gender hierarchies with our work. We have only the remaining pragmatic question: what are the possibilities of change in the daily youth work. Here we have to develop sustainable liveable perspectives with the girls.
This presupposes basically acceptance. Acceptance in this sense means carrying out life assistance independently of the fulfilment of any preconditions. Even also independently of whether a girl represents life and role conceptions, which oppose our conceptions of “being a woman” diametrically.
5. We work in all districts with mixed teams.
Since these teams work together appropriately with groups, women also work with boys and men likewise with girls. The roles expectation and the role behaviour within the teams have consciously to be included into the argument with the youths and/or simply offering frictions by ones own role behaviour (also in the reversal of socially given role samples) are possibilities not to be given away. This presupposes however the readiness of the social workers to question consciously their personal role understandings.
6. Many of the girls don’t want a separate “girls offer”, but want consciously spend their time together with the boys of the group.
Nevertheless the possibility should always remain open, to undertake something alone as a girl with the female street workers, since it’s of course obvious to the boys to undertake certain things “among themselves”. (Sometimes also, because they have stress with their girl friends, if they hear about certain “appointments”….)
To keep this possibility open to the girls, even if it is not used during a long period of time, presupposes a sensitive approval in the team. This is realisable only if also the male colleagues redard the work with the girls as important and equivalently.
7. We don’t have to keep the regard only in relation to the way of an individual girl in the group, but altogether keep the view for developments, which might happen.
By crucial analysis it’s often noticeable: Most girls are more self-confident, more energetic, penetrating than it appears at the first sight. Even if this development in the last years not necessarily happened in direction feminist movement focuses; it took place and must be registered as such in the girl research.
8. Role models and role behaviour in groups don’t only refer to the relationship of boys and girls.
The girlfriend of the “Boss” can stand in the group hierarchy slightly higher than some boys.
These concrete interior structures of groups can’t be excluded in the educational work with these groups. The appropriate approach with gender-differentiated offers must be concretely and sensitively always structured and revised again and again.
9. We also undergo always to the risk of definition the influence of girls on boys in mixed groups.
“P. rarely has no more time for car stealing tours, because he works regularly. He wants to go on vacation to Greece with S. and needs money for that. Well only S. seems to have him in grasp…”. On the question, how does S. sees this: shoulder-twitch and silence.
It is task of the social workers to be attentive and sensible and not to intervene in a way that the girl has to become sad. Many girls find acknowledgment and attention in relationships in which they “positively” influence their guys which they are missing under different conditions. This has to be absolutely accepted and recognised.
It must be however task of social workers to create other alternative possibilities together with the girls, in which the same attention and self-confident of the girls can be strengthened.
10. Even if they are (still) rather rare: Meeting street groups of homogeneous girls becomes more and more usual.
These groups arise after our perception usually, where the groups of boys are rather homogeneous – in comparison in particularly substantially more frequently with foreign than with german youths (refer in addition also to the interview with Eva Koch).