The mean girl syndrome is not a new one. I was a victim, as were several of my friends. That's why, when I read about how Phoebe Prince killed herself after being relentlessly bullied, I wasn't surprised. I remember wanting to disappear into the floor whenever someone came up to me in the halls to tell me how much they hated me, how much everyone hated me. No, I didn't go home and hang myself, but my family moved the summer after seventh grade, and I was able to start fresh in a new school and made some friends.
My daughter's in seventh grade now. And her class is full of mean girls. When a "friend" invited several girls who she was also friends with to a party at our pool club during a time when she knew my daughter would be there and then pointedly did not invite her, I had to restrain myself from throwing that kid against the wall and asking her how she'd feel if someone did that to her. I toyed with the idea of talking to the mother, but besides being embarrassing for my daughter, I knew it wouldn't help. See, the nut didn't fall too far from the tree. I'm sure her mother was a mean girl, too.
And in a page right out of the movie Heathers, there's a girl clique in my daughter's class that only allows six girls at a time to join. Sometimes they want someone new, so then they throw one out. My daughter says they're "the meanest girls in the whole school."
It's worse now, too, because of the phones. Cell phones that small children should never, ever have, because they really don't need them. But parents are buying phones for 8, 9, 10 year olds, so by the time they reach middle school, these kids know how to use them for good and for evil. Don't want to stop bullying that girl when school's out? Just send text after text after text until the girl cries and gets depressed and becomes a puddle of anxiety. This is, sadly, why I am resisting buying my daughter a phone. And why I won't let her on Facebook until she's 14. Bullying on Facebook is another issue. Or telling a kid she's "pitied" because she doesn't have a fancy cell phone or Facebook page is another alternative. It's a no-win situation.
What breeds this meanness? Books upon books have been written about it, psychologists have studied it, many of us have lived through it and hope it never happens to our daughters. But it does. We suffer through it, grow up, hopefully become stronger people because of it. But sometimes, someone like Phoebe Prince can't take it anymore and decides to stop it the only way she thinks she can.
Sadly, I have no idea how anyone can stop this. The officials at the South Hadley, Mass. school where Phoebe Prince went claim they knew nothing about what was going on, even though the girl's mother said she contacted them more than once about it. There are no bullying policies at every school, but are they really enforced? When my daughter was called into the assistant principal's office to be "a witness" to a problem between two other girls, the assistant principal was surprised I would complain about having my daughter possibly get a reputation of being someone who'd rat out her friends. She just didn't get it. These are the people who are supposed to understand more than anyone. They work in the schools.
So, if you are a woman reading this, have you ever been a mean girl victim? And if so, how did you survive?