'Prove me the bam!’: victimisation and agency in the lives of young women who commit violent offences

This article reviews the evidence regarding young women’s involvement in violent crime and, drawing on recent research carried out in HMPYOI Cornton Vale in Scotland, provides an overview of the characteristics, needs and deeds of young women sentenced to imprisonment for violent offending. Through the use of direct quotations, the article suggests that young women’s anger and aggression is often related to their experiences of family violence and abuse, and the acquisition of a negative worldview in which other people are considered as being ‘out to get you’ or ‘put one over on you’. The young women survived in these circumstances, not by adopting discourses that cast them as exploited victims, but by drawing on (sub) cultural norms and values which promote preemptive violence and the defence of respect. The implications of these findings for those who work with such young women are also discussed.

Susan A. Batchelor