School bullying is a major problem in our schools. Today there are zero tolerance policies, however, one problem that I wonder about today is whether girl to girl bullying is being addressed. This is because bullying by girls can be very insidious, and although this is a form of aggression itself, can easily be overlooked by adults. Although bullying by girls is commonly portrayed in the media as girls picking on each other, what actually happens can be more severe. Furthermore, girl bullies tend to find ways to make themselves look like the victims, which can make it hard for both adults and children to figure out what’s going on. This kind of bullying also happens with full grown women as well.
My twin sister and I were terribly bullied all the way through grade school and up until 8th grade. Despite the fact that I spent a good chunk of my time at school hanging out with the school counselor, sitting in the principle’s office, hanging out with the school librarian, or even hiding into the bathroom due to the fear of the bullies, no real steps were taken to actually stop these bullies. In fact, my parents were so concerned by the whole situation that they sent us to a different high school than this group of bullies, even though it was outside of our town’s high school zoning.
Our bullying started in about the second grade. A girl who was popular, who I’ll name Jackelyn, asked us to join the popular girl’s group with one caveat: that my sister and I leave all of our other friends. We refused to do this, and for the rest of the time that we knew these girls they terrorized us in any way that we could.
A lot of their techniques were the classic ones. They would tease me at recess for bringing a stuffed animal to school, and when I cried they would call me a “baby”. This resulted in then more teasing about this and what a “baby” I was. The more that teachers intervened the worse it got. But the girls kept using an excuse that not only helped them to get away with what they were doing but also turned other children and even friends of ours towards them and away from us: “But we’re so jealous of them!”
These girls would play the “I’m the victim” card by stating that they were jealous of us for just about anything that they could think of, and used it as an excuse for their behaviors. It was also more bullying, but very few people were able to see that. “Their mom is a teacher at our school! We’re just jealous.” they would say, or “Well they’re getting special treatment” when the reason why we were getting special treatment was because we were upset by these girl’s behavior. Another one was “We’re just jealous because they are so smart!” This kind of defacing only made the teachers and everyone else feel sorry for these girls, rather than us, and made people feel like they must “take sides”. As I said before, it was just another form of bullying, and most people fell for it.
One thing that these girls were very good at was to isolate my sister and I and leave us practically friendless. They were especially good at doing this to me. The girls would spread rumors about us behind our backs, promise favors to other girls if they would only be friends with them instead of us, and then tease us and slam us for our reactions to their bullying to other people behind our backs. They also used fear tactics on other girls in order to get them to be friends with them and to stop talking to me and my sister. This is a form of gaslighting and triangulation, and it happened to me not just as a child but has happened to me as an adult as well. However, they always seem to get away with it by stating “Well, I’m jealous,” and by getting everyone to feel sorry for them when they were accused of bullying or were in trouble. “I just don’t know why Meryl doesn’t like me!” They might say in response to my tears and reactions to their bullying, or even simply “Well Meryl just doesn’t like me!” even though I had done nothing to ever show that to them. More are: “I just don’t know why she is so upset! I’ve been so nice to her!” or “I just think that she’s overreacting/too sensitive!” or “I don’t know why she does this to me/makes me look bad!” in response to my reactions when they bullied me. Eventually, of course, I didn’t like these bullies, but initially I always gave them a chance as a friend. They were the ones who decided to start teasing and defacing me for no other reason than the fact that they were bullies.
The bullying continued into middle school, with the same old and some new excuses. One time in sixth grade, a couple of girls from this group started throwing rolled up pieces of paper at my head saying “Don’t cry! Don’t cry!” The more I cried the worse they got, unfortunately, and it got so bad that I ended up having an asthma attack. The girls did get in trouble, but that old proverbial excuse helped them get away with it: “But I’m jealous of her because she gets all the solos!” And then it got turned into a poor me fest by the bullies where those girls ended up getting a bunch of attention, despite the fact that I was the one who was bullied and even had an asthma attack because of it.
This kind of behavior from these girls continued all the way up until the end of 8th grade. I did have some friends who stuck with me to the end and who never gave into these girl’s manipulations to try to isolate me from every one around me. I’m grateful for that. I’ve gone ahead and tagged a few of these girls on my Facebook post about this blog in order to say thank you. I appreciate those of you who stood with me despite these girl’s bullying. A few of our friends even came with us to our new high school! It was great, and finally in high school I was able to have a good experience in the school system.
This aspect of this bullying that was so frequently overlooked by the adults around me, as well as the school district, was these girl’s tendency to attempt to take away all of my friends every few years and completely isolate me. One attempt did work quite well in my sixth grade year. I lost a bunch of friends due to one girl bully and felt alone, scared, and confused about it. I ended up starting a dog walking business and got a lot of the support that I needed from the neighborhood dogs, in particular one named Ruby. Those dogs basically saved me that year. The problem, though with this type of bullying, is how does a young girl prove that a few bullies (or even one) purposefully took a bunch of friends away from her? A lot of the time the girls who were taken away as friends from me feared these bullies too as no one wants to lose all of their friends, and were not about to stand up for themselves, me, or to tell the adults around them what was going on. So my question today is, do schools really know what to do about this form of bullying? And do they recognize how damaging it can be to the girls involved? Even today I have problems with confidence due to this bullying and don’t have too many good friends who are women as a result of dealing with girl bullies for much of my childhood.
School bullying by girls can be both obvious and highly manipulative. This kind of bullying is harder to prove than the obvious form of aggressive bullying, but can still leave long terms scars on the girls involved. Girl bullying and the “poor me” excuses that girl bullies make, though, is still a form of aggression. Even though it leaves no physical scars, the emotional and psychological ones last a lifetime. I only hope today that schools are more aware of this type bullying and the long term effects that it can have on the victims.
Thank you. Please leave you comments about this below!