Bullying is an increasing problem for both boys and girls. However, when we think of bullying we often think mostly about the type of bullying that boys do, because most studies about bullying focus on boys as aggressors. The truth is that girls can be bullies too, and when girls bully it can be an entirely different kind of beast. When we think of bullying we tend to think of physical violence and outward taunting, but when girls bully their tactics are often quiet and covert.
To casual observers it can be hard to distinguish a group of girls who are bullying apart from a group of girls who are innocently standing around. Girls socialize differently than boys, and, as girls get older, their peer interactions and relationships become less physical and increasingly more cerebral. Girls engage in verbal bonding by sharing stories, hopes, and dreams. Since girls bond differently than boys, it makes sense that the way they bully would be different as well.
When girls bully they use things like alienation, ostracism, deliberate and calculated random exclusions, and spreading of rumors to harass their peers. Girls get other kids to gang up on one or more peers as a way of exerting control. Sometimes they entice other children to act out aggressively and sit back to watch the show. They form groups that pick and choose members at random and exclude others without real reason. They form alliances with other social groups in an effort to jockey for popularity and positions of power among peers.
All too often the bullying tactics used by girls are brushed off as cruel but normal social interactions.
Girls who bully use tactics such as alienation, ostracism, deliberate and calculated random exclusions, and spreading of rumors to harass their girl peers.Girls get other kids to gang up on one or more peers as a way of exerting control. Sometimes they entice other children to act out aggressively and sit back to watch the show. They form groups that pick and choose members at random and exclude others without real reason. They form alliances with other social groups in an effort to jockey for popularity and positions of power among peers. All too often the bullying tactics used by girls are brushed off as cruel but normal social interactions. Girls bully by using emotional violence. They do things that make others feel alienated and alone. Some of the tactics used by girls who bully include:
- anonymous prank phone calls or harassing emails from dummy accounts
- playing jokes or tricks designed to embarrass and humiliate
- deliberate exclusion of other kids for no real reason
- whispering in front of other kids with the intent to make them feel left out
- name calling, rumor spreading and other malicious verbal interactions
- being friends one week and then turning against a peer the next week with no incident or reason for the alienation
- encouraging other kids to ignore or pick on a specific child
- inciting others to act out violently or aggressively
It needs to be recognized that boys aren’t the only bullies, as girls bully too, only in more subtle ways that parents and teachers don’t always recognize. Being singled out, ridiculed, excluded, or alienated is a form of bullying. Being beaten up emotionally on a daily basis does damage to the victims. It is just mean, and mean girls are bullies. It is time that the problem was addressed for what it is, a gender difference in bullying but bullying none-the-less.
Adults sometimes fail to address girl bullying because the mindset still exists that not all kids can be friends and the social structure of the school system encourages the formation of groups and reinforces the idea of social hierarchies. This makes many adults slow to recognize things like exclusion and alienation as something sinister. These behaviors are often dismissed as an unfortunate part of the normal formation of peer groups.
It is normal for girls and boys to form social groups and close bonds with certain people, but to do so at the exclusion of others is a form of bullying. It is especially so when those groups make power plays over other groups or individuals. Having friends is one thing; but having friends who work to make others feel that they are not good enough to be included is another. Playing the popularity game in a way that causes fear or inadequacy in others is a form of bullying and it is a common tactic used by girls.
Listed below are some steps girls can take if they are being bullied by other girls:
- Ignore the girl bully as often as possible. Bullies crave attention, and female ones aren't much different. If she bothers you, she'll expect a response, so if you decide not to give her one, she'll eventually grow bored with you.
- Tell a trusting adult. Make sure you tell them not to mention your name so you aren’t labeled a snitch. By doing so, not only will you get your problem out, but you'll also be getting it off your chest, and sharing it with someone who cares.
- Make eye contact with the mean girl bully. Eye contacts shows confidence, that you couldn't care less what she does. If she can sense you're 'weak' or scared, she'll go after that. When you're making eye contact, and she looks at you, just give your hair a flick, smile, and turn away.
- Use your words, not your fists. However, if you are being physically threatened, (with guns, knives, etc.) do whatever you can. Do NOT start a fight or a riot; it will only create tension, and an audience, which may lead to a principal or boss pulling you into their office for a talk.
· Find the girl bully’s weakness before she finds yours. This is the key to making her stop. Make her feel bad about bullying and try to shut her up so that she can't bother you. In other words, say something that she can't answer. Nevertheless, make sure it's not something that she can later make a comeback from.