Girl Bullies: What’s Happened to the Sisterhood?

When The Diva was younger, she was bullied, badly, by a bunch of mean girls at her primary school.  It broke my heart to watch what was happening, but at least I was there for her: to listen, coach, hug.

Girl Bullies

Despite the best efforts of the school, these bully girls were not ready to change, nor were their parents ready to hear that their daughters were being mean.  Eventually, my daughter changed schools to an Arts Program, where, out from under the stigma assigned to her as a target, and away from that clique, she was able to blossom and became a confident young woman.

I’ve been bullied, my kids have been bullied, and  I’ve also witnessed the ‘new’ style of bullying: cringe-making cyber-bullying. Stinging and horrific words fly, photos are posted, insults levied.  All permanently and publicly recorded on social mediums like Facebook.

While the bullying boys engage in seems to be more of posturing and overt violence, I’ve noticed that the sisterhood of women seems to be disintegrating in the younger generation.  Girls seem to be acting terribly to each other, and to me, its getting worse and way more vicious. In an in interview with The New York Times, author, Kelly Valen  talks about this very fact.   Ms Valen has written a book called ‘Twisted Sisterhood: Unraveling the Dark Legacy of Female Friendships’ which is about how women relate to each other, and how to avoid raising ‘mean girls’.

Twisted Sisterhood: Unravelling the Dark Legacy of Female Friendships by Kelly Valen

In her interview, she says:

“I have to admit, I’m a bit terrified of having a girl now. I heard that from so many women! And I heard from women who had boys and said they felt like they had dodged a bullet. What can I say? I think it’s hard to be a kid these days, period. They have to deal with so many pressures that we didn’t experience. But I do think girls have additional pressures. Look at the environment that they are growing up in. I worry that it’s a less hospitable culture and getting worse. That the gender is no longer this sort of open, welcoming and nurturing sisterhood. “

Can this change?  Can we bring back the sisterhood?  It’s time to stop focusing just on the bullied, and start thinking about the bullies.  Its time to up the ante, to go for the source;  for parents to start teaching their daughters not to bully.

As parents, what can we do to Stop the Bullying?  How do we raise a generation of girls who will think twice before bullying?  Here are some tips that can help, according to the counsellors at Kids Help Phone:

  • Teach your girls to focus on their strengths so they maintain good self-esteem
  • Make them aware of the policies, systems and safeguards in place to protect them (teachers, administrators, the police)
  • Help them to make good choices so they can avoid potential bullying situations
  • Be good role models for conflict resolution in the home;  model talking, kindness and compromise, as opposed to right, wrong, and power position
  • Promote and encourage diversity in the home
  • Encourage girls to have a variety of peer interactions (don’t put all your eggs in one basket)
  • Teach them to empathize and communicate effectively
  • Help them to understand what is kindness, and how to be kind.

Personally, some of the messages sent in our home are:

  • Above all, BE KIND
  • Cruelty and meanness are unacceptable.  If you don’t like someone, just stay away from them.
  • Don’t fight back-walk away. Invariably, whoever does it second gets in trouble.
  • If you see bullying happen, inform someone in authority immediately.  Do not sit by and watch. Do not be afraid to do the right thing.

What are some things you think do in your house to STOP the Bullying?