The Answer to Bridging the Intergenerational Divide
Why is Project Butterfly Necessary?
Minority adolescent girls have been disproportionately affected by under-achievement due to low self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth. This condition of low self-esteem/confidence/worth is accompanied by a number of psycho-social risk factors. These include: lack of education, no or under-employment, ill health, substance abuse, pregnancy, as well as risky sexual behaviors. Compounded with issues of cultural displacement and lack of a stable support system, some minority girls not only struggle with defining themselves, but also lack basic survival skills that can further thwart the normal and healthy development of a productive and secure self identity.
Current research on adolescent violence and delinquency considers how social, class, race, ethnicity, and culture interact to cause young women to behave violently (Chesney-Lind & Shelden, 1998). It also helps explain why girls join gangs: to develop skills to survive in their harsh communities and temporarily escape a dismal future. Because they have not developed their own personal life’s mission and focus, they become vulnerable to gang recruitment and influence (Campbell, 1991; Chesney-Lind & Joe, 1995). Adolescent females jailed for crimes, compared with their male counterparts, are much more likely to report previous sexual or physical abuse, ranging from 40 percent to 70 percent of respondents in various surveys (Artz, 1998; Chesney-Lind & Sheldon, 1998; Koroki & Chesney-Lind, 1985), Violent young women are more likely to come from troubled or violent families. Their home life, characterized by poverty, divorce, parental death, abandonment, alcoholism, and frequent abuse, leaves them quick to be angry, harbor distrust, and exact revenge via gang violence (Artz, 1998; Koroki& Chesney-Lind, 1985).
Black girls ages 12-18 are twice as likely to be the victims of violence compared to any other group of young people, according to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
According to the medical journal Pediatrics in April of 1997, the average age for either breasts or pubic hair showing up is 8.1 years for African American girls. Approximately 50 percent of African American girls between the ages of 8 and 9 have either breasts or pubic hair. These girls are usually in third grade.
African American adolescent girls in steady, ongoing relationships have greater frequencies of unprotected sex, suggests a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Black children are nine times more likely to have an incarcerated parent than white children. Black children represented 43 percent of children of incarcerated mothers in 1992, 52 percent of which were female children [Bloom, Steinhart, 1993]
Most teens get pregnant on purpose because other life goals seem out of reach. [Cornell University, 1997]