Girls beat girl
Violent activity not restricted to the boys

by Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 13/98) - Girls haven't been associated with gang attacks historically. At least, they didn't used to be the usual suspects.

Time for a reality check.

Fifteen-year-old Jacqueline Smith was kicked, slapped across the face and spat on outside the YK Centre during the Christmas holidays.

Five girls swarmed her and a friend, Jenny Balkwill, but the attack focused on Smith, because the main assailant claimed Smith bad-mouthed a friend.

"They have a reason, but it's really a silly reason," Smith said. "Some try to pick fights."

Balkwill ran to the mall to get security, but Smith said she managed to get away and followed Balkwill into the mall.

As Balkwill phoned her mother for a ride home, she recalled, mall security arrived and asked the girls to leave because they were causing a disturbance.

Hysterical and confused, the girls say they did not fully explain the situation to mall security.

Mall security guard John Jones said he tries to be polite. He does ask people who are crying or emotional what their problem is and whether he can help, but they often respond with abusive language.

"I would take one girl and put her out one door and then lead another to a different door if there is an altercation," he said. "If they are in danger they can come to my office to call the police."

That may not be enough. Fear among teenage girls is rising.

"There are a lot of girls who fight," said Amanda Gray, a Grade 11 student at St. Patrick high school. "It's all right when people aren't after you, but everyone sticks up for whoever is their friend."

Matt Pond, another Grade 11 student, said he has seen fellow teens with knives, but not flicking them in a threatening way.

And though there is some talk about youth gangs, Pond said it is usually just a group of teens hanging out together who might be mistaken for being in a gang.

Kyle Jardine, also in Grade 11, said girls fight a lot more than boys and he has to go back only 24 hours to dig up rumors of a fight between two girls at a basketball game.

Amid these concerns, organizers of this weekend's teen danceathon stress their event is safe.

"This will be a safe event with many adults there to watch over it," says dance organizer Cheryl Inward-Jones.

A change in the start time means students will start to boogie at 3:30 p.m. and continue until midnight with 15-minute breaks every 45 minutes and a longer break about half way in between.

Even as the dance gets out, Inward-Jones says adults will watch for the students' safety.