You know the type.  They sit behind you and whisper about you.  They pass notes, point and you and laugh.  Maybe they intentionally trip you in the hall or start a rumor about how you’re promiscuous.  They are the “mean girls.”

mean girls

Girls use exclusion as a tactic. Image: shutterstock

Even if you have been out of school for years, you probably have at least one terrible memory of something that was done to you when you were in school.  Why do we always remember the bad things so much more than the good?  Maybe we are hardwired to remember them so that we can somehow avoid them happening again.  Who knows?

The point is kids can be mean.  If they turn on you, they can make your school life a living hell.  Yet, girls and boys seem to handle their mean tendencies (read: insecurities) in different ways.  While boys often yell, throw a few punches and are over it…girls engage in a totally different type of relational aggression.  It’s likened to psychological warfare.

There are girls who pit friends against one another.  They use exclusion as a tactic of war.  For teenage girls, especially, this is one of the most popular tactics.  One day you’re best friends and the next mortal enemies.  Sometimes one of the parties does not even know why.  If she tries to ask about the reason, it can be even worse.  She may get accused of fake friendliness or a ploy to get pity as “the victim.”

loser girl

“Loser” image: shutterstock

Most boys don’t have any idea how bad it can get since they don’t often play games like this.  Except, to the girls involved, it’s no game.  Now, with everybody having an online persona, it’s worse than ever.  Girls sometimes get mercilessly teased, to the point of switching schools or even committing suicide. Yet, teachers usually have no clue because they don’t see it.

Girls are taught that they need to be nice and pretty to be liked.  So, when they do experience anger, they may feel they cannot show it on the surface.  It may be viewed as a weakness.  Instead, they suppress it and it goes underground.

If you suspect that somebody is being bullied, alert the school.  It may not completely solve the problem, but having a strong support network is essential.  Kids with strong family bonds can cope better than those without them.