Why is Girl Bullying on the Rise?
Girl bullying is every parents’ worst nightmare. Parents of tormented girls have it the worst, but parents of bullies must be equally uncomfortable, I would imagine, once they figure out that their little girl is needlessly cruel. Even parents of the passive girls — the vast majority — who stand around witnessing bullying but helpless to intervene feel frustration as the tales of bullying pour forth. At least that is what it seems like to me.
But is the media to blame or is the media an easy target? I do tend to hate Disney shows and when I am watching one with my kids, I mock it the entire time unless I am so disgusted that I insist on a new show. Hannah Montana is not even the worst offender, I have to say. Darcy’s Wild Life, which was on a science-y channel like Discovery Kids, had a girl character who was such a supreme bitcX that when I saw the actress in a different show acting nice, I almost didn’t recognize her.
Is it enough to comment alongside as kids watch these shows or should they be banned? Is banning even realistic? I would welcome your advice on girl bullying. How are you coaching your kids and is it working? Are you finding their special needs classmates to be particular targets and how do you prevent that from happening?
My kids are now watching FoodTV with a vengeance. Their favorite show is Cake Boss. I much prefer this show over any Disney show and maybe they will gain some pasty chef chops from their hours of devotion. You can’t get that from Hannah Montana!
Here’s the link to the entire article. Some key paragraphs are below.
p.s. Here’s a great book on the topic of girl bullying calledThe Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. She wrote it after being a passive observer of girl bullying as a child. Being a passive observer must have been a powerful experience for her to have carried this experience into adulthood.
If a book can teach, let us all hope that every girl we know reads this book and takes it to heart!
By PAMELA PAUL
Mean-girl bullying used to set in over fifth-grade sleepover parties, but now the warfare increasingly permeates the early elementary school years.
- Mean-girl behavior, typically referred to by professionals as relational or social aggression and by terrified parents as bullying, has existed for as long as there have been ponytails to pull and notes to pass (today’s insults are texted instead). But while the calculated round of cliquishness and exclusion used to set in over fifth-grade sleepover parties, warfare increasingly permeates the early elementary school years.
- “Girls absolutely exclude one another in kindergarten,” said Michelle Anthony, a psychologist and co-author of the new book “Little Girls Can Be Mean.” When her own daughter was manipulated by a “friend” into racing down a slide booby-trapped with mud, making it appear to a group of boys as though she’d soiled her pants, Dr. Anthony was taken aback. “You don’t expect to run into that level of meanness in a 7-year-old.”
- Capt. Stephanie Bryn, a Public Health Service officer overseeing the government’s “Stop Bullying Now!” program, is initiating a campaign geared toward 5- to 8-year-old children this fall. “Girl relational bullying has been under the radar,” she said. But when the campaign surveyed its 80 partner organizations, they unequivocally said children were aging up, making bullying pervasive in the early elementary years. “We realized we need to address this in kindergarten.”
- Is there really a fresh spate of mean little girls? Social scientists who study relational aggression point to a dearth of longitudinal data. It could just be heightened awareness among hyper-parents, ever attuned to their children’s most minuscule slight. It could be a side effect of early-onset puberty, with hormones raging through otherwise immature 8-year-olds. Or it may be that an increase has yet to be captured; relational aggression wasn’t a focus of academic research until the mid-1990s, making longitudinal study a bit premature. Most studies still leapfrog from preschoolers to early adolescents.
- Nicole Werner, a psychologist who studies bullying at Washington State University, said that she hasn’t seen research “to indicate that these forms of hurtful behavior are increasing in younger kids.”
- “However,” she continued, “I have to expect that the amount and type of media kids are consuming at younger ages is having an effect.”
- Other experts agreed. “The research literature on aggression is very clear that with relational aggression, it’s monkey see, money do,” said Tracy Vaillancourt, who specializes in children’s mental health and violence prevention at the University of Ottawa. “Kids mirror the larger culture, from reality TV to materialism.”
- Nicole Martins, a professor of telecommunications at Indiana University, has conducted a study linking aggressive behavior to shows with stars she deemed socially aggressive, like “Hannah Montana” and “The Simple Life.” “There was no effect on aggression on boys, but in girls, there was an increase among those who watched socially aggressive female models on TV,” Dr. Martins said.