Are Adults the Real Bullies?

by Leslie Morgan Steiner

 

Adolescent girl-on-girl bullying in America has dominated the news headlines following the tragic suicide of Phoebe Prince, an Irish student new to South Hadley High School in Massachusetts. After briefly dating a popular football player, Prince endured months of hallway and Internet slurs from a cabal of seven other girls before hanging herself in mid-January. Debates rage about teacher, student and societal culpability, with at least one anti-bullying consultant, Barbara Coloroso, blaming administrators at South Hadley High School. Other experts are shining an intense spotlight on the myth (or reality) of mean-girl female violence.

 

These public discussions, coupled with another dominant news headline about girls – the indisputable fact that girls academically outperform boys at the secondary and collegiate levels -- highlight the unique, complex pressures on girls in America today.

 

A politically incorrect reality that became obvious from my work as an editor at Seventeen Magazine is that adolescence generally presents more paradoxes – and thrills – for girls than boys. Girls’ bodies change and mature earlier and more dramatically than boys. Girls confront the intoxicating power of femininity and sexuality while simultaneously absorbing the reality that rape, unwanted sexual attention, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases threaten them far more dramatically than their boyfriends. Drilled into girls’ psyches are incessant feminist messages that good grades, starting positions on varsity sports teams, Juilliard-level piano skills, and high test scores are critical to even the playing field in a world riddled with gender discrimination and lingering, latent systems and networks that favor y-chromosomes. A combustible cocktail for any humans, especially ones with less than two decades under their Bebe and Juicy Couture belts.

 

Slice of life example: Two days ago, my preteen daughter offered to venture out into our urban DC neighborhood in search of a birthday cake for her eight-year-old sister. What a wonderful growing-up-girl gesture, I thought: she’s demonstrating maternal and independent instincts simultaneously! Surely applying to medical school would soon follow. After reminding her to take her cell phone, I wished her good luck and went back to reading Stop Bullying Now!.

 

leslie morgan s...
04.09.10

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Yes! I marched over there and came home with a free replacement chocolate chocolate cake! The girls had a decadent picnic celebration in the backyard.

leslie morgan s...
04.08.10

Leslie Morgan Steiner

YES I SPOKE TO THREE EMPLOYEES AND FINALLY THE STORE MANAGER WHO TOOK BACK THE COCONUT CAKE AND GAME ME THE CHOCOLATE-CHOCOLATE CAKE MY DAUGHTER HAD WANTED. THE TWO GIRLS HAD A DECADENT PICNIC CELEBRATION IN OUR BACKYARD.

leslie morgan s...
04.08.10

Leslie Morgan Steiner

YES I SPOKE TO THREE EMPLOYEES AND FINALLY THE STORE MANAGER WHO TOOK BACK THE COCONUT CAKE AND GAME ME THE CHOCOLATE-CHOCOLATE CAKE MY DAUGHTER HAD WANTED. THE TWO GIRLS HAD A DECADENT PICNIC CELEBRATION IN OUR BACKYARD.

cknobloch
04.07.10

Whenever I read something like this, my fists ball. It's hard to fathom how rude and mean people can be sometimes, and unfortunately, the lessons about how to deal with those people are just as critical for our kids to learn. I always think of Gwen Stefani singing, "I'm Just a Girl." She encapsulated the frustration girls come up against, being raised to be independent but not TOO independent, ambitious but not TOO ambitious, look hot but not TOO hot, be smart but not TOO smart. Just like Gwen, "I've had it up to here."

Carley Knobloch
http://www.mothercraftcoaching.com

cknobloch
04.07.10

Whenever I read something like this, my fists ball. It's hard to fathom how rude and mean people can be sometimes, and unfortunately, the lessons about how to deal with those people are just as critical for our kids to learn. I always think of Gwen Stefani singing, "I'm Just a Girl." She encapsulated the frustration girls come up against, being raised to be independent but not TOO independent, ambitious but not TOO ambitious, look hot but not TOO hot, be smart but not TOO smart. Just like Gwen, "I've had it up to here."

leslie morgan s...
04.07.10

Leslie Morgan Steiner

You betcha! I gave a piece of my mind to three different employees including the manager. I came home with a delicious chocolate on chocolate cake and the girls had a glorious picnic celebration in our backyard.

mrsncook
04.07.10

What a terrible experience for your daughter! It's a shame people treat others so rudely, especially a child! I would have marched right back to that store, talked to the supervisor, and demanded the proper cake and an apology! And I would have informed that guy that it was not appropriate to ask a child to enter their home and that he scared your child.

We've had some issues that I've had to back my girls up. It took everything in me not to beat the person first and ask questions later. lol One time a drunk neighbor yelled at my children. To make a long story short, I marched right to the house, told him my children had something to say, and I let my girls tell the man how they felt. They told him it was not nice of him to yell at them when they didn't do anything, it scared them and upset them, etc. The man apologized, his wife was very apologetic and said he had a problem with drinking, and we left. After, I asked my girls if they were okay. They felt so much better talking to him and telling him how they felt, and I was there backing them as they stood up for themselves. It's a shame they even had to deal with a rude adult, but it wasn't the first time or last.

I've taught my girls to be assertive and confident. Although they are respectful, they don't take any crap. If they have a problem, they are quick to get me or their father to back them up, and they have no problems speaking up for themselves. I am so proud of them, too! In a world where people will unfortunately be rude to others, my girls have stunned people with their outspokenness. They say how they feel, politely and confidently, and then they move on to nicer people. Now if we can just work on the bullies, we'll be set! ;)

Michi
04.06.10

I had one of those type of store experiences your daughter had (luckily the harrassment on the way home was on a different day).
That is one time my mother did raise a stink and I was glad of it, with the clear implication that they would make it right, or they would lose not only her business but that of every other "adult" she could muster outrage in.
To take advantage of a child not knowing to specify "plain" chocolate over German chocolate?!
I would bet that employee was not the manager and if I were the manager and knew of an employee who had done that they would be at the very least suspended; and while I investigated if it came out that was not their first such offense, they would be fired.

luftodd
04.06.10

Okay. . but did you march back to the bakery with your daughter and get the cake exchanged?

luftodd
04.06.10

Okay. . but did you march back to the bakery with your daughter and get the cake exchanged?