I hit a few nerves with my recent post, “The Rise and Fall of the Mean Girl,” in which I discussed the insidious nature of middle school cliques and “mean girl” bullying. The emails I received came from moms whose children had been the victim of mean girl antics; young girls who had been alienated, cyber-bullied and socially ostracized by mean girls; and a few angry moms who chastised me for “outing” their child as the “mean girl” of the story.
As for this last group, let me clarify. The story never mentioned any girl in particular. If you are worried that your child might be a mean girl/bully, I am not the one you should be talking to.
Thankfully, the problem of bullies and mean girls is not being ignored. It’s been all over the news — in books, movies, songs and more. In Rachel Crow’s new video, Mean Girls, the 14-year-old “X-Factor” sensation takes a stand against bullying. The video, which has gone viral with over five million views on YouTube, shows Rachel and real, everyday girls being bullied by their peers. Instead of remaining silent, averting their eyes, ignoring the bullying or being passive, they take a stand. The girls hold their palms up into the air with the words “Be Kind” written on them. Rachel repeats the verse, “Mean girls, you no longer run my world.”
The video has a powerful message at a time when kids really need to hear it. Her mission with the video is to show people that she can be strong and make a change, and that no one deserves to be bullied.
The important lesson I’ve learned in researching mean girl bullying is that parents — both of the bully and the victim — do not always realize how serious the bullying is, and often ignore it. Teachers and school administrators know it’s happening as well, but because mean girl antics are often covert, they, too, fail to address the problem. One teacher I spoke with told me he knows it happens, but most often it’s outside the classroom. All he sees are the effects — crying girls, despondent behavior and poor grades.
Women and girls have faced mean girl bullying for generations and still, it’s getting worse. Take notice. Take a stand. And talk about it. Share your experience of bullying or being bullied with the next generation.
Samantha Parent Walravens is the author of TORN: True Stories of Kids, Career the Conflict of Modern Motherhood, chosen by the New York Times as the first pick for the Motherlode Book Club.
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