Mean Girls (and Boys)


One of the saddest and most difficult lessons we are learning at the local public school  is the way that the other children treat one another. In Gabrielle’s class, which is 2nd grade, the girls are already catty in a way that surprised me for eight year olds. I know that girls can be vicious, but I thought that it started later than 2nd grade.

A common activity at lunch is for the girls to play Telephone. Remember Telephone? Where one person whispers a sentence to her neighbor and the sentence is passed around the table. The last person says it aloud and everyone giggles at the way the words have changed while traveling through the group. Well, this version of Telephone is very different. The statements being passed around are mean, cruel insults about others at the lunch table. “Devonte is dumb and stupid.” “Allie is a crybaby.” “Shaniqua is ugly and has weird shoes.”

Seriously. This is what the mean girls do at lunch.

My daughter, who tends to be kindhearted and a peacemaker, refuses to pass it on. So, they skip her and lean around her to keep the game going.

Another example of this kind of verbal bullying happened one day when the teacher stepped out of the room. As soon as she left, some of the girls started a ‘game’ where they named a student aloud and everyone in the class raised their hands if they were friends with the named student. This quickly identified the less popular kids. When one particular girl was named, Gabrielle was the only person who raised her hand and the other girls actually BOOED this child for having no friends. Talk about a quick way to destroy the already fragile self-esteem in these girls!

How do you explain to your 8 year old *why* other girls behave this way?! We have had many discussions about how wrong it is and what she can do about it. I bought her a book called Stand Up For Yourself and Your Friends, and she and I are reading through it together talking about ways to implement the ideas for diffusing bullying situations and helping the ones who are picked on to feel better. She drew a picture and made a card for one girl who is repeatedly targeted by the mean girls.

I am very proud of Gabrielle and the way she identifies this as horrible behavior on her own. It isn’t easy to be the child who won’t join in when other classmates are all banding together, but she is holding out.

Is it any wonder that our kids struggle with depression at earlier and earlier ages?



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17 responses »

  1. I know it may not mean much since I’m not terribly close to Gab, but will you give her a hug for me and tell her that Miss Kris is so very proud of her. She’s so incredibly strong to stand up in the face of that kind of peer pressure and I have tears in my eyes reading this. Tell her I think she’s awesome and she is making a difference in these girls’ lives — the bullies and the bullied — whether they show it right now or not.

  2. Not only do they do this at school but at church too. It has become so bad on Wednesday nights that my Maggie refuses to go to her classes. This is so sad. I am glad there is other moms who are teaching their daughters what is right and wrong.

  3. Oh my gosh!! It scares me to death!! I have 2 Autistic 8 year old girls that I homeschool for this very reason. They would be absolutely destroyed by this behavior~ well, one of them would sell her soul to be popular so I think she’d actually be one of the problems, but, either way, I don’t think I could survive it.
    Best of luck to your little ones. I am so sorry they are going through this.

  4. You should be very proud that you’ve raised (well, are still raising) her to be such a kind and mature person. I would be very upset to find out that my child was treating others in such a cruel manner as those other children. She is very brave for standing up for what’s right and showing compassion.

  5. My 5th grade daughter wanted to try school this year. I was hesitant, but we talked it out for weeks with her and decided to let her try. In the 2nd week of school, 3 other girls caught her in the bathroom after lunch recess and WROTE in magic marker all over her arms and face and back….and on the walls in the bathroom. The teacher said since there were no cameras to catch the other girls bullying her that my daughter was responsible for cleaning the bathroom walls!!!! They made her scrub them with comet, THEN called me to come get her because she was too scared to go back to class!! When I got there to pick her up, she was so scared she vomited in the parking lot before we could leave. We never sent her back….and they better be glad I didn’t file charges!! I have never been more disgusted in my life with school officials, but also with children. I never dreamed kids would be THAT mean! I am truly afraid of a *public school nation* of children, and the fact that they’ll be running our country one day! Pure evil!

  6. I tend to turn things to the Bible regarding this. We have some mean kids around us and I have had to have these same conversations. I talk about how Jesus was treated and how He in turn treated others. I talk about how public/Christian school kids tend to be constantly treading water to stay afloat, those that sink are the ones being teased, those that are above water are the cool ones, the popular ones. And day in and day out those kids are treading water, what a life to live. I am glad that I have a relationship with our son and we can talk about these things. These are great life lessons, because we may end up with a wife/husband, MIL/FIL, boss, SIL/BIL that is a bully and we will have to learn to deal with them. We pray for the bullies that we know and ask that God would change their hearts and change our hearts toward them.


  7. Sigh. My heart breaks for all of the kids involved. 3 of my 4 kids are in public school now too, and it’s def. not an ideal situation. But you know what? Your kids have a tremendous advantage, because they have you. Homeschooling remains!

  8. I love what you’re doing to trying and overcome this. I feel horrible to hear this. My daughter was the subject of bullying in kindergarten. Her “best friend” wouldn’t allow her to play with any of the other girls and then constantly knocked her down with words. The other girl changed school the next year but we are still battling the effects in second grade. This year my girl got to hear that everyone in her class likes her and thinks of her as a silent leader because she never gets in trouble. I pray that your girl can have a similar turn around. Will be praying for her and you.

  9. I read this and thought of Ezekiel 22: 24-30. I believe in this situation God has truly found His ‘man’. What an amazing little girl and what an amazing mom you are.

  10. I read this and thought of Ezekiel 22: 24-30. God has truly found His ‘man’ in this situation. What a strong little girl and what an amazing mom you are for raising her to stand for what is right.

  11. We also learned this very early at our home. My kids originally went to public school, but after many many issues including mean kids (from pre-k to 3rd grade), but also the lack of support in helping my daughter. My daughter has ADHD, and the only solution was meds for a time, but then they were hurting and not helping. Finally, when my oldest hit 3rd grade, I had enough and took my kids out of school. It’s good and bad. One of the hardest things for me is teaching my children how to handle bullies. Especially if they are the one being bullied. :/ I pray your children can make a difference in the situations they are in.

  12. I believe it because I see the same things in some of the neighborhood kids. It breaks my heart that kids are so mean to each other. My kids are homeschooled and after being around each other 24/7 they can be pretty mean to each other and they do pick up on things after playing with the neighbor kids. I commend your daughter for trying so hard to not be like the others. She must be very strong and confident in herself; you’ve done a good job in helping her be that way. Give her a hug and keep working with her and encouraging her; she has a tough crowd to deal with at school.

  13. Mean kids come from mean parents. My own daughter and her bestie were in the back seat talking about a little girl in their class and the conversation was awful. They were picking on this child and everything about her, right down to hairy legs, bushy etebrows and the colour of her hair. I pulled over, turned to the children and let it rip. How dare they be so nasty. Later that evening I had a phone call from Bestie’s mother who was horrified that I had raised my voice at her precious. I explained what actually happened and what the girls had said, the reply? “well that child is ugly and does have hairy legs and bushy eyebrows, my daughter wasn’t lying!”

  14. I do not know what state you live in but here in the town I work in, the schools have a no tolerance policy on bullying. Mean girls are being bullies. The beginning of anything like that would have our school psychologist in the room with the class…mean girls would have extra time with school psychologist and parents going over inappropriate behavior.
    You should pat yourself on the back for what you have instilled in your child. If you can, get involved in your schools and ask if they have an open doors or open circle program.
    Bullying and being ‘mean girls’ should not be tolerated.

  15. You know, my kids are all in public school and the only problem we have had in 10 years is death threats from a conservative Christian formerly homeschooled kid. His parents are very very active in their church, the dad is an Elder and the mom runs the women’s ministry. It’s not the school, it’s the home environment that breeds this kind of behavior, and it can come from any and all types of home environments.

  16. I could not agree more, Lisa. This happens because it is tolerated by teachers, parents and other kids. In my daughter’s third-grade class, the kids have been together since Kinder and there has been a no-tolerance policy from day one on bullying. It started with the policy being made clear by the administration. Followed up by kids being taught the policy, which helped. When parents ask about school daily from the early days it becomes a habit. The kids share with parents, the parents talk to each other and teachers are vigilant and talk to parents and kids when they see any meanness at all. At all. Zero tolerance. Now our kids tell us when they overhear us sniping at other adults! I love it. I’m not saying there aren’t still situations that arise . . . but there are no “mean” girls versus “nice” girls. There are only girls that do something mean and find out it gets them nowhere . . . so to fit in they must learn to be nice.

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