28 August, 2007 - Published 10:57 GMT

Girl gangs

The tragic death of an 11-year-old boy gunned down by a teenager in Liverpool last week has led to an enormous amount of soul-searching here in Britain as to what kind of society we now live in.

One thing which is certain is that the norms of a previous generation don't count any more -- like the idea that it's only boys who are violent and who are likely to form themselves into gangs.

Anisa says she was a gang member in Liverpool from the age of 7 to 14 and comes from what sociologists would call a dysfunctional family:


It's not just in Liverpool where girl gangs operate. London's chief police officer, Sir Ian Blair, concedes there are now violent gangs operating on the streets of the British capital which are exclusively made up of girls.

In addition there are hundreds of girls who are active members of gangs run mainly by boys. Shaninga is a former gang member from London:


Cynthia McVey is a psychologist at Glasgow Caledeonian University who specialises in gender and aggression. The World Today asked her if she was surprised by the revelations in that report:

Cynthia McVey.

First broadcast 27th August.