The problem with bullying teenage girls is just as insidious as bullying boys, if not more so. While boys use a direct approach to bullying, teen girl bullying can often be confined to indirect and more subtle methods to abuse their victims.
In middle schools where bullying is more prevalent, teenage girl bullying can be witnessed on a daily basis. You may see a group of girls approach an innocent victim in the bathroom (a commonplace occurrence), or in the schoolyard during lunch recess. Or you may encounter the teen girl bullying and physically attacking her victim a few blocks away from the school’s perimeter.
Bullying teenage girls may also be seen fighting their victims in the hallways or cafeteria of a school. This is not uncommon. There have been instances where middle school teenage girls have appeared in the main office with scratches, bruising, torn clothes and a host of other injuries. Teenage girls fight ferociously. The victims of teenage girl bullying are left dazed, confused and frightened. Most often, they do not return to school and transfer out immediately. This is particularly true of girls who have emigrated from other countries; they neither understand nor comprehend the ways of the West and thus are prime targets for teen girl bullying.
Most teenage girls travel in groups. The leader of the pack is usually the one who is considered to be the teen girl bullying other girls. The teens are fiercely loyal to each other, and would never snitch or rat on the activities of the others. When a new girl arrives in school, especially one from another state or country, she has no idea what lies in store for her. If she doesn’t speak English, seems timid or reserved, or tends to relate more closely with teachers, guidance counselors and other staff members – she is a target.
As mentioned earlier, bullying teenage girls use an indirect approach such as rumor and innuendo to abuse their victims. While statistics show that bullying boys are more physical in that they are more prone to fist fights, teen girl bullying encompasses more emotional abuse. While we know that teenage girls tend to be more sensitive, in a middle school or high school it is paramount to the kiss of death to exhibit that type of vulnerability.
It seems that at the start of every school year, some teen girls immediately flock to the girl groups who are the strongest, while others simply want to make new friends. In middle schools, most teen girl bullying progresses in each grade. What may start out as a rumor to humiliate another girl turns into after-school altercations. Victims may be followed home by bullying teenage girls, or may be accosted on the bus or the subway. Theft of a targeted teen’s possession begins, followed by pushing or shoving down the staircases. Finally – if the victim reports the incident, the consequences are dire.
Bullying teenage girls cut at the heart of their victim’s soul and self-esteem. They wear them down which eventually causes chronic absenteeism, eating disorders, insomnia and other health problems. Eventually, the victim becomes isolated and turns to thoughts of suicide. It is a myth to assume that bullying is relegated to boys. Girls are crueller to other girls than one can ever imagine.
By Mandy-Jane Clarke