Girl-On-Girl Crime: Schools Step In

Illustration for article titled Girl-On-Girl Crime: Schools Step In

As anyone can tell you, there are few things as dangerous — or terrifying — as a roving pack of 13 year old girls. The Guardian reports that teachers in the UK are being instructed to crack down on vicious and manipulative behavior. According to Vicky Tuck, head of Cheltenham Ladies' College, girls of 12 and 13 years old "move in and out of friendships quite a lot." She notes, "They can be a bit mean, isolate somebody one day and not the next." Jade Prest, now 17 years old, survived a "sustained campaign of girl-on-girl bullying" when she was 15. She received a barrage of threatening text messages, had rumors about her spread on the internet, and started cutting herself before she eventually attempted suicide. "One girl started it all," she says. "Because of one person, no one talked to me. I became depressed and put myself into isolation."


Explains Val Besag, an educational psychologist who's written a book, Challenging Girls, "Boys have a hierarchy based on physical power, girls have a hierarchy based on friendships." Ms. Besag recommends that teenagers watch Mean Girls to show how detrimental manipulation and backstabbing are. Ms. Tuck warns that bitchy behavior is "women's last barrier to triumph in the workplace."

On one hand, emotional abuse from bullying can mean tragedy for young women like Jade Prest — and Megan Meier. But can schools really have an impact? And truthfully, as bad as it gets, bullying (or being bullied) can be a time-tested rite of passage for many girls. And when you're 13 years old and being bullied by a group of other girls, isn't it possible that the interference of an adult will just make the situation worse?

Crackdown On Schoolgirl Bullying Epidemic [Guardian]



as someone who's been bullied (you can't pay me to repeat 7th grade. not for a million, bajillion dollars) and who has been in charge of middle schoolers (camp counselor), i think schools can make somewhat of a difference. when my charges started getting into fights, i simply told them "i can't make anyone like each other. but i CAN make you be nice to one another." you have to be very on top of things— periodically checking in with each kid individually, build relationships with the bully and the bullied, etc, and while it won't ever stomp out bullying completely, it will minimize it.