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This story has been pulling at my heart for days. My heart breaks for Phoebe.

I'd been where she was, in differing degrees, when I was in high school . . . back in the 80s. I don't want to imagine what my life would be like if I were in school today. I shudder at the thought. I survived it by sheer force of will. I wanted to grow up and be better than all of them. I also had my writing even then. I'd write for hours after school. It was my safe haven. I could create a world where people liked me. I also did have a couple of friends outside of school to talk to.

The only way we'll stop this is if society starts to recognize that this isn't just a kids being kids thing. Kids don't grow out of being bullies, they just become mean adults who have been taught that they can get away with the abuse.

I applaud the MA legal system for pressing charges in this case. It's long over due.

As the parent of three daughters, I can safely say that there is nothing on the planet nastier than a pack of teenage girls. Nothing.

My heart breaks for Phoebe and her loved ones.

I grew up always being teased about my excessive weight, mostly by mean boys. I wasn't a full member of all the popular girl groups, mostly because I'd befriended a couple of other girls who were considered outsiders. I wouldn't give them up to be popular.

I mostly tried to "rise above it", but along the way learned to never let them see the hurt. The meanness really screwed up my head and emotions when I was much younger.

I am, however, tough and strong when I need to be, thanks to my folks.

Sometimes, you can only take so much before you explode. In fifth grade, I was constantly picked on my two other chubby, snobby girls. I complained about my nemeses to my folks all of the time and got constant reminders to rise above it. This worked until a class ski trip when the two girls cruelly picked on a shy, quiet, homesick friend and made her cry. I lost my temper, picked up my heavy wooden hairbrush and beat one of those miserable beyotches. When she sobbed the apology that I demanded I stopped.

My father had a cardinal rule that my brother and I were not allowed to throw the first punch, but if someone physically tried to hurt us and we first tried to walk away, we were allowed to defend ourselves. In high school, we had some tension and riots going on. I got jumped a couple of times, until the time a girl tried to beat me up after gym class and I defended myself with full flying fists. I sent her over a table which pretty much ended her desire to fight.

I was lucky. My school had mean girls, but the school had rigid rules (including an honor code) that limited their ability to inflict lasting damage. Class sizes were relatively small, 25 at most, so teachers could keep a sharp eye on offenders, and the school was good about separating members of known cliques.

Many teachers kept and enforced seating charts that rotated each grading period, and the school had seating charts at lunchtime that rotated every six weeks. We didn't have uniforms, but we had a strict dress code. I absolutely believe in uniforms — especially for grades 6-8, where this behavior seems to break out in its most virulent form.

Kids who have phones — and I agree that most shouldn't, though some parents seem to feel it's a safety issue — should be required to check them at the office at the beginning of the day, and pick them up at the end of the day. No kid needs a cellphone during the school day, EVER.

I agree, Karen, that mean girls grow up to be mean women. And sad to say, they seem to want to relive their "glory years" by running the organizations at the schools, and running down the other mother volunteers, which is why I avoid them. (Disclaimer, some women and men not all, there are plenty of great volunteers who are doing it for their kids, not to show off their latest Juicy Couture sweatsuit)

Yep, I can be snarky, but I'm never mean just because I can be. But throw the first punch, or the first verbal jab and I'll go out of my way to make you fucking cry. This is a lesson we've taught our daughters and NOTHING makes me prouder than when they stick up for the underdog.

I hate hearing these stories, because we all have them. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Slam books have been replaced by slam texts and stupid facebook quizzes...

I was once a mean girl. It took me a while to see that the group I had chosen to hang out with were mean girls. One night they marched over to a girl's house, knocked at her door and told her she was a whore and she couldn't eat at their lunch table anymore. It turned out one girl believed (wrongly) she had gone after her boyfriend. I will live with the shame of knocking at that door forever. There is nothing worse than mean girls. (Or male bullies). After that I became a friend of any tortured soul in the lunchroom.

Cynthia: I also turned to writing to help me get through those awful years.

Mr. LGA: Anyone with daughters needs to be aware of this.

Mary: Good for you for sticking up for yourself. One of my best friends stopped being bullied when she totally lost it and beat the crap out of one of the mean girls. Sadly, though, much of this is verbal and text abuse, not physical, so it's harder to respond.

Clair: You were lucky. I am a firm believer in school uniforms, too, and when kids come to our house, we confiscate their phones. Why do they need them? These kids aren't driving and allegedly are at places that have landlines, in case of emergencies.

Lori: We need to teach our kids to stick up for the underdog. When Julia was not invited to that party at the pool club, a girl who had been one of her closest friends since kindergarten did NOT stand up for her and just shrugged and said, "Sorry." But she wasn't. They haven't been friends since.

Patti: I commend you for admitting you were a mean girl. Not many women would do that, but you were clearly affected by what you did and learned from it. And not many women would do that, either.

When my father died, my daughter went into a deep depression. One girl in her group convinced the others to shun Molly. Why? I don't know. But I've never disliked a child so much as I disliked that girl.

Mr. LGA is right. I'd rather stuff rabid wolverines down my shorts than have to spend a day at the mercy of teenage girls.

I agree -- Boy-bullies may throw more punches, but those mean girls really know how to inflict emotional pain. Our daughter is only in the third grade but already those behaviors are starting. When I spoke to her class, one little girl asked if she could have a playdate with Marissa. One of Marissa's classmates came up to me and said -- very loudly -- that the girl "shouldn't have a playdate with your daughter" because she's "weird," which I scolded him for. Yeah. It was a boy who did that. So maybe I take it back.

I was never one of the popular girls at school and my school, that was enough. Certain people didn't talk to you, invite you places, or even acknowledge you exist. My grandmother could not understand why I was not friends with her best friend's grandson-simple, he was popular, I wasn't.

I remember the day my 'friend', who wanted to be friends with the popular crowd, drew all over my face with a pen on the school bus. I spent the rest of the ride home trying not cry, then stood in my kitchen with a bottle of aspirin and a glass of water. I finally decided it wasn't worth it and went back to the bathroom and started washing my face.

I will agree with what Mr. LGA said. I worked in all-girls high school for 4 years. In complete seriousness - the brutality was incredible.

When I think back on the whole girl group thing, I'm surprised I was even in one. I was part of a 20-girl group in junior high and high school. The slam book phase was during eighth grade, and I remember how horrified I was that these girls were doing this. I participated too but wrote nice things about everyone in the group.

I always questioned my role in the clique, but most of the girls' parents were friends of my parents and it was just expected. Actually I chose to be on the perimeter anyway, because I had some really good friends that weren't part of any clique.

In grades six through eight, my daughter was in a private school that only had one class per grade. She was in the first class of the newly added middle school, so there were only 15 kids in her class. Thankfully it was a small group because she got a lot of individualized attention and the kids were one big group of friends. So she missed the whole mean girl scene.

BTW, all the 20 girls in my jr and sr high group turned out to be very nice and caring adults.

Our daughter went through the same thing. A girl who'd been her best friend suddenly turned on her, started being really malicious, spreading rumors, the whole nine.

I wanted to go to the little brat, give her a good shaking, and tell her "girl, you've broken bread at my table, and this is how you act towards my daughter? We think not." Cooler heads prevailed, by which I mean my wife.

I enjoy reading about these issues, thanks for sharing the topic, this is my contribution.
Ginger D. Barrett
1 673 Chatham Way
Washington, MD 20005

I think its the way girls are portrayed in music, tv, fashion - basic media. Girls are supposed to be fierce, or triple threats while sexualizing themselves to get the attention of some boy. Sheer confusion, fierce, competitive, mean spirited to other girls so that boys can see them fight one another for them. So incredibly stupid. Male chauvanism bullshit as music labels, head production people, are men, or perhaps women who competed at burn your bridges break neck speed. Watch the music videos, listen to the lyrics. Yes my sexy arse is shinier than come on! That's where our girls learn meanness. Also clueless parenting, mom's who think their children 'would never...' Denial parenting is also a culprit.
My 2 cents.

Yes, it's very hard time for young girls now. Very hard time... we need good psychologists.

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