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04/02/2010

Mean Girls on a whole new level

DSC_0173  When I was 12 years old my best friend and I got into a fight.  I can’t remember what the fight was about, but I remember feeling like my world was over.  Perhaps I was a touch melodramatic at the time, but the feelings were very real and very painful. 

I remember in junior high and high school there were times when I would get in arguments with my friends or people made fun of me, days where I’d rather join a witness relocation program than go to school.  It seemed like everyday would be as hard and painful as that one singular day.  But it passed. Every time.  We never had “mean girls.”

Yesterday, I read a story in the New York Times about that poor little Irish girl, Phoebe Prince.  She hung herself after months of being tormented and tortured by classmates.  While it’s to be expected that kids have issues with their classmates, never have I witnessed month after month of intentional harassment. Who does that?  And more importantly, where are the parents and why didn’t the school do anything about it? 

The number of questions in my head are far too many to put down on paper and I hate to blame the parents, but seriously, why would a teenager think it’s okay to punish another human being to the point where he or she doesn't want to live anymore?    Why would a teenager put so much effort into hating someone else?  Where do they learn this type of behavior? 

I’m baffled, but then again it’s not my child who would be seen as a monster.   I wonder, would I be able to see this type of behavior in my little girl?  Would I be the clueless one? These 9 children are being charged as adults in this case.  9 kids who will probably never go to college and experience freedom as an adult, all because they were petty and mean. Schools are enforcing stricter anti-bullying rules to crack down on these situations, but then the bullying moves to the social networks, an arena where schools are unable to regulate and control.  I would think this is where the parents should come in.

There is also the bullying that takes place under the parent’s nose.  Two years ago, six girls spent 30 minutes beating the living daylights out of a classmate & video taped it.  Why? All so they could post the beating on myspace & you tube.  This is the stuff I have to worry about for my daughter? I work darn hard to teach my daughter to believe that you treat people with kindness and respect-- that everyone should be heard and minds should be open.  How can my words contend with a peer who will tell her horrible things about herself or those who want to physically hurt her?  I can’t keep her in a bubble. 

I read these stories and I worry.  I worry a lot because, as we all know, school can be hard, but we get over it.  We get over the bickering, the backstabbing and the rumor making.  Some of these experiences leave us with emotional scars, but we live, we thrive, we move on.  But then there are girls like Phoebe who can’t see the light and whose world felt like it was collapsing, because it probably was. 

I hope I can help my little girl remember that these feelings and people in her life are not permanent.  I know I’m ridiculously paranoid, but the more I hear these stories, the more I become concerned for my little girl, who will be the smallest girl in her class, with the biggest mouth.   

When not micromanaging her 5 year old, Mollie blogs over at Fish Food.  

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