If you haven’t watched the movie, “Mean Girls,” I highly recommend you do for a realistic glimpse into the lives of teenage girls. This movie was based on a book called Queen Bees and Wannabees. In a nutshell, one girl is the queen bee that has a clique that follows her direction. This group is exclusive and enjoys making other people feel left out for not belonging to the clique. They often spread viscous gossip and rumors about other girls that are competition or who are not popular. They do lots of things to make targeted individuals feel very bad about themselves, such as mocking, ridiculing, and sometimes even hurting physically. They lay claim to boys they like, even if those boys do not return the feeling. If other girls dare talk to, or heaven forbid, flirt with those boys, this clique makes the life of the other girl a living hell. They even try to get non-clique members to join in on the torment.
The reason why I am so passionate about this topic is because I am the mom of a fourteen-year-old girl who has been the victim of mean girl hostility for the past three years. She is currently a freshman in high school. My daughter is kind, smart, funny, outgoing, stylish, and very beautiful (not being boastful; she has actually been asked to model). She is not perfect and accepts her flaws and shortcomings. Unfortunately, as she has matured into adolescence, many girls who are in the “queen bee” clique see her as a threat.
They have taunted her, formed hate groups against her, mocked her, ridiculed her appearance and clothing, called her names, threatened violence toward her, spread viscous rumors about her...and the list goes on. When the Queen Bee has decided she might gain something from being nice to my daughter, there is less animosity for short periods of time. But the ugliness always returns. It only takes one boy noticing my daughter and mentioning it to someone who tells a “mean girl.” Then the torture is back on ...
When it all started in the seventh grade, it was really a difficult time. It got so bad for my daughter at her school, even after I asked the school to take steps to prevent the bullying, that I pulled her out of that school. The final straw was when a girl texted her that she was going to seriously hurt her the next time she saw her off campus. We live in a small area where there are several towns that make up the county. We happen to live between two towns where she could have a choice in schools.
She joined a competitive softball team the summer before her eighth grade year and enjoyed it so much that we put her in the school where the other girls on her team were going. It didn’t take long for the Queen Bee of that school (who also happened to be on the softball team) got angry with my daughter for not participating in the clique. Overnight, the same thing happened again that had happened in seventh grade.
This resulted in so much depression that she didn’t want to go to school. It even started to affect our home life in the form of arguments and disagreements between me and my husband on the best strategy for coping. Of course, I read every book I could get my hands on ... but I just couldn’t help her. After all, it was happening again, even after we tried a new school. I immediately talked to people I worked with who had teenagers who knew of good therapists in our area. I found a great family counselor who had a great ability for connecting with teenagers.
The counseling really helped empower her to stand up for herself. It also helped us with learning new strategies at home to use that would best serve the situation. The mean girls left her alone for the rest of the year and she actually had a pleasant softball season. Of course, it is a new school year. The mean girls are back to their old tricks. She still initially gets very hurt from their bullying, but because of the counseling we received, she is able to recuperate much quicker and even stands up for herself without any prompting. No, the bullying doesn’t go away, but at least we have strategies that help her when things get rough.
As a parent, it is the most difficult thing to see your child suffer from bullying. In a perfect world, we could just pick up the phone and call the bully’s parent and tell them that what their child has been doing. But the reality is that ALL parents believe their own child, even if they witness the bullying themselves. In fact, it just makes it worse to get them involved. Trust me; I have tried it all.
Empowerment is the answer! Help them stand up for themselves by giving them the courage to do so. Tell them you are confident in them, and don’t try to do it for them. They have to do it themselves. But if the situation is dangerous, removing them from the environment may be the only solution at the time.
I hope this helps other parents who may be going through this.