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Girls and Bullying

When most people picture a " typical " bully, they imagine a boy who is bigger or older than . . .

When most people picture a "typical" bully, they imagine a boy who is bigger or older than his classmates, who doesn't do well in school, who fights, and who likes it when others are scared of him. Girls usually face a different type of bully, one who may not look as scary from the outside but who can cause just as much harm.

What's She Like

The typical girl who bullies is popular, well-liked by adults, does well in school, and can even be friends with the girls she bullies. She doesn't get into fist fights, although some girls who bully do. Instead, she spreads rumors, gossips, excludes others, shares secrets, and teases girls about their hair, weight, intelligence, and athletic ability. She usually bullies in a group and others join in or pressure her to bully.

The Effects

This kind of bullying can have just as serious consequences as physical bullying. It can cause a drop in grades, low self esteem, anxiety, depression, drug use, and poor eating habits in girls who are bullied. This kind of bullying is harder to see. Most of the time adults don't realize when girls are being bullied in this way.

What You Can Do

One of the best ways to stop this form of bullying is for the girls who see it or who are stuck in the middle to speak up and say that it is not okay. But only 15 percent of girls speak up, usually because they're afraid the bully will turn on them next. Parents and other adults can help girls beat bullying by teaching them how to stand up for themselves and their friends and by taking action themselves. Here are a few things to remember:

  • Encourage kids to be kind and to help others, particularly if they see someone being bullied. Praise them when they do so.
  • Tell girls they are special, and point out why.
  • Help girls get involved in activities outside of school so they can make friends in different social circles.
  • Don't push girls to be in the "right" class or on the "right" sports team. Let them choose what to play and with whom.
  • Stop bullying when you see it. Don't let anyone, even your daughter, make fun of someone else even if she says she is only "joking."
  • Be a good example. Don't gossip or make fun of others in front of young girls.
  • Talk to girls about their friends, what they do together, and how they treat each other. Ask them what makes a good friend, and whether their friends have these qualities.
  • If you know bullying is happening at school, speak to school officials and ask what they are doing to stop it.
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