The Lassies are No Feart – understanding violence between girls in Scotland

No Knives, Better Lives have been working with young women to better understand their experiences and priorities specifically around violence between girls. We spoke with four focus groups of young women and four practitioners as part of a small-scale qualitative research project.

Importance of family

One of the main findings of the research was around young women’s relationships with adults, including their families. The young women were fiercely loyal and protective of their families, which could lead to violence.

"Yeah when people talk about my mum and nan, like I just hit them. I don’t really care." (Young woman)

For some young women, their families played a role in accepting and promoting violence.

"My mum was so happy when I hit [name]." (Young woman)

Youth work practitioners said loyalty to family made it difficult to challenge values and behaviour.

"Because you can try and have those conversations and challenge that behaviour and that mindset, but it’s quite a hard one to get through because obviously the loyalty is with their family." (Practitioner)

Being protective of family could also mean young women were reluctant to confide in their parents about their worries.

"Sometimes you don’t want to tell your parents that you're struggling [with bullying and poor mental health] because you don’t want to worry them on top of all their other worries." (Young woman)

Whole-family support

Parents, carers and families care deeply about the safety of their children, so like the young women themselves, they should be at the centre of violence prevention work. Our research made clear that it will be impossible to prevent youth violence without them.

The 'Lassies are No Feart' report and young person's version are available here >

'No knives Better lives' logo with 'No knives' crossed out

No Knives, Better Lives works in partnership with young people and practitioners to understand and address the causes and drivers of youth violence.

No Knives, Better Lives is run by YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youth work and the collective voice of the sector.

Get in touch with the NKBL team: