'Girl Power' Fuels Bullying, Study Says

British girls as young as 6 are becoming increasingly violent as they turn a trend toward "Girl Power" into aggression on the playground, the British children's charity Kidscape claimed yesterday.

Michele Elliott, director of Kidscape, told the Sunday Telegraph that a survey found a 55 percent increase in reports of girl-on-girl violence in the past 18 months. Ms. Elliott singled out Britain's Spice Girls pop band for criticism, saying video footage of band member "Sporty Spice" making karate chop movements was "less than helpful."

Elliott said the charity accepts that the Spice Girls do not aim to promote physical violence. However, "Girl Power is meant to encourage young women to stand up for themselves. But young fans confuse assertiveness with aggression," she said.

Her claims met with skepticism from other child-care professionals.

Dieter Wolke, a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, who is researching bullying by girls age 6 to 8 at primary schools, told the paper, "These claims are interesting, but I could not say that they qualify as scientific evidence." However, he said it was true that girls were taking on a more assertive, "male" lifestyle.

Mary McCloud, research director at the charity Child-Line, told the paper it would be difficult to isolate the influences of physical violence in girls. "Research suggests that violence among young people is usually connected with behavior they have witnessed in their own environment," she said.

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