UCSB sociology professor Nikki Jones will receive the New Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology for her research on aggression in adolescent females.
Jones’ book Fighting for Girls: New Perspectives on Gender and Violence investigates the recent increase in arrests among young girls despite a decrease in aggressive behavior. Meda Chesney-Lind, a professor at University of Hawaii at Manoa, co-edited the book .
According to Jones, the combination of strict school and law enforcement polices has created an inaccurate portrayal of growing violence in girls.
“[There have been] changes in school, security and surveillance,” Jones said. “There have been more mandatory arrest policies and girls are more likely to be arrested along with increased surveillance of neighborhoods.”
Jones began researching female violence nearly a decade ago, publishing her first book Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner City Violence last year and Fighting for Girls this fall.
Jones said she is enthused her work has generated growing discussion within the scholarly community.
“I appreciate that people are responding to work on African American inner city girls,” Jones said. “[Most research is about] boys, which is important, but there is not enough attention to girls.”
Sociology professor Maria Charles said Jones’ research and that of UCSB sociology professor Victor Rios are major contributions to their respective universities.
“Nikki Jones and Victor Rios are two young faculty members who are helping the department build a reputation as a center for the study of race, gender and justice,” Charles said. “The department is very proud of this work and we think that Jones and Rios are at the forefront of a new wave of research on the criminal justice system and the racial, gendered and cultural consequences of incarceration and policing.”
In addition to faculty members, students in the department also recognize the significance of Jones’ work.
Second-year sociology major Kelly Boyle said the book disproves the inaccurate portrayal of female behavior in the media.
“I think movies [like “Mean Girls”] misconstrue violence among girls to the public,” Boyle said. “It makes people think that girls are more violent than they actually are. I think her study is good because it will bring more light to the situation and show it for what it really is instead of blowing [violence] out of proportion.”