Girl Bullies: Females Bullying Becoming More Common

Why Do Girls Bully Others?

Although there have been several teen flicks about the subject of girl bullies, it is not funny at all. Girls can be brutally mean to each other. Getting through middle school and high school for some teenagers can be extremely difficult as a result of bullying from groups of girls. Popular, influential cliques can even influence boys, as well, ostracizing the targeted victim with potentially serious consequences. In short, girl bullies can be a big problem.

Experts say that the damage inflicted by girls can be insidious and more difficult to detect at times. Among other things, abuse includes gossip, rumors, exclusion, ostracizing, and manipulation. Unlike boys that generally fight with fists, a young woman may come home from school as a result of girl bullies without any physical signs of trauma. But the scars are definitely there.

As news clips have shown, even fists can fly. In Florida in early 2008, a gang of girl bullies, 6 girls, ages 14-17, lured a friend to a house, had two boys stand look-out outside and beat her for 1/2 hour while they video-taped the entire scene. The victim ended up with a concussion, a black eye, and damage to an ear. Assault charges are being filed against the teens, that they apparently don't even take seriously! They laughed and joked with the arresting officers, wondering if they could make it to cheer practice, or their beach vacation..... The perpetrators' intent was that they would post the assault on MySpace and have 15 minutes of fame. They hoped to get back at the girl for posting insults there herself.

What can be done? How can you know if your daughter is a bully, or being bullied? Are the schools and other social groups helpless in curbing the abuses that continue with sometimes tragic results from girl bullies?

One sad statistic is that each day, more than 160,000 students do not want to go to school because of teasing, abuse, and/or loneliness resulting from actions by their peers. You can bet that at least half of these are young women. Of these scared, anxious kids, some turn to self-destructive behaviors, such as drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, or other risky activities in order to cope.

Getting Picked On

Girl bullies can be so hard to deal with!
Girl bullies can be so hard to deal with!

Potential Signs of Peer Abuse Indicating Girl Bullies

  • Lost interest in activities
  • Sudden, unexplained weight loss
  • Sudden, unexplained weight gain
  • Drop in grades
  • Secretive behavior
  • Excessive crying
  • Excuses not to go to school
  • Acts aggressive towards siblings or pets
  • Has difficulty sleeping
  • Changes friends, or stops talking about friends
  • Acts differently

If you suspect your child is being bullied at school, definitely talk to them to try to find out more information first. Even if they do not open up, you may be advised to call your pediatrician for a referral to a qualified counselor.

Whispers and secrets can cut deep when girl bullies are involved
Whispers and secrets can cut deep when girl bullies are involved

Laura's Story* (true story - name changed)

Laura was a beautiful, thin, attractive blonde girl. She was very popular in 5th and 6th grade. She danced ballet, was in girl scouts, went to church, and was generally thought of as a good friend to a group of girls she had grown up with since pre-school. In middle school (7th and 8th grade), things started to change. Laura and her friends got to know another group of girls from two other schools. Without really knowing what she said or did, eventually Laura's long-term friends starting sitting at the other lunch tables, away from her. They crossed the hall when she came towards them, and shied away from her in the bathroom. Things escalated pretty quickly when Laura found "bitch" scribbled on her locker, and her friends stopped returning her phone calls.

Laura lost interest in ballet and scouts within 3 months of school starting. She dropped about 15 pounds before Christmas. Her mom noticed and tried to ask what was going on. At first, Laura tried to remain upbeat, but her mom couldn't ignore the fact that Laura truly had no friends within about a 2-month period. Laura spent most of her time in her bedroom after school crying and talking to and petting her cat.

Laura's mom talked to the principal, who informed her that it would "blow over," and that there was nothing he could do. She also talked to the mothers of some of Laura's friends who had abandoned her. These mothers, unfortunately, were defensive and not supportive. Laura's mother even talked to the priest of their church, and could not get adequate help. Sadly, Laura's ordeal continued through most of high school, although it was most intensive the first 2 years. Laura later said that she seriously wished that she could have committed suicide, but she was too scared and did not know of a good way to do so.

Laura is one of the lucky ones. She made it through. She's alive today. It is now 18 years past the date when the bullying first started and there are STILL some women that cannot be Laura's friend in the community as a result of the middle school fiasco.

Don't let her stay sad - help her out if girl bullies are making her life miserable!
Don't let her stay sad - help her out if girl bullies are making her life miserable!

Girl Bullying is Devastating

What is the Psychology behind Bullying?

Of the teens that enjoy ganging up on victims (girls and boys alike), many have similar psychological issues. However, there is definitely not a one-size-fits-all parameter in which all children fit. Generally speaking some of the following factors may come into play:

  • Abuse at home
  • Lack of attention at home
  • Insecure
  • Boredom
  • High intelligence/failure to be challenged
  • Thrill of power
  • Fear of abandonment

Along with the leader of the gang, is a group of by-standers. Those that are grateful not to be the victim, but too scared not to stand up for her. They go along to get along (with the ring-leader). Unfortunately, these kids often can cause the most damage to the psyche of the victim - even more than the bullying leader. As in the case with Laura, above, all of her former friends became by-standers, going along with the instigator(s). They failed to stand up for her and left her completely isolated without any support system.

Often, parents of the children that get caught in the middle can stop the destructive cycle. If you find that your daughter is no longer calling a long-time friend, gently try to get to the bottom of it. See if there are genuine reasons for her change of heart, or if she may be in the midst of a more sinister manipulation.

One woman shared her memories of such an experience. "Kristin," sadly remembers her role as a member of a mob who literally drove a victim out of their middle school. "Out of terror that we would be shut out (instead of the victim), we excluded her, passed rumors about her, made prank phone calls, toilet-papered her house. We did this for years and years."

Kristin has no recollection why the bully targeted the particular girl, or what triggered the abusive actions. But she remembers feeling terrible for her, "even though I didn't do anything to her directly, I never did anything to help." Eventually the victim changed schools.

Victims of girl bullies may need years of therapy to recover
Victims of girl bullies may need years of therapy to recover

What Bullying is Not About

  1. Social Status
  2. Sexual Orientation
  3. Race
  4. Beauty
  5. Popularity
  6. Religion
  7. Any type of handicap

An instigator may pick any person as a victim, regardless of the factors above. Yes, its true that some people may get "picked on" more than others. However, some bullies may find themselves jealous of an attractive, otherwise popular person and choose to start a rumor about that girl. Next thing you know, if circumstances are right, the popular person could soon become a victim of ostracism or other abusive tactics.

21st Century Tactics in Bullying

Things are a bit different now than they were when Laura was the victim of middle school peer abuse. Teens now have cell phones with the ability to text message, take photos, and instant message (IM). Rumors now can be spread exponentially faster, not to mention with media attachments and potential invasion of privacy concerns (photos in locker rooms, etc.). Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites give plenty of other opportunities to ostracize teens, rather than be-friend them, as well.

Of course, as with text messaging, the Internet is a lightening fast way to spread lies and misinformation about victims. Pretending to be a fake friend and then exposing yourself as such is a nasty way to make fun of a person, and in one sad case, led to a girl's suicide (Megan Meier, 13 years old).

In this case, it was a twisted adult who posed as the made-up friend on MySpace, rather than a teen bully. That was perhaps the most shocking aspect of the case. Parents and guardians should take note of this outcome and be watchful of their childrens' computer and cell phone use to ensure appropriate limits and try to have some knowledge of the "friends" they are making online.

Moreover, as the Florida teen assault case shows, some kids use the Internet as a vehicle to "show off" and role play. The gang of girls videotaped their beating of a fellow cheerleader and intended to post the show on MySpace. They couldn't even believe they had done anything wrong, even after being arrested and held for over a week in jail!

On the Internet: a bully in a whole new light
On the Internet: a bully in a whole new light

Increase Awareness About Female Bullying

Female bullying is a serious issue that cannot be ignored just because it comes without scratches or scrapes. The young girls that experience it growing up may carry its effects into adulthood. Alcoholism, eating disorders, smoking and other issues may be avoided if a teenage woman is recognized as a victim and given professional help (if necessary). Sadly, some girls slip through the cracks and do not get proper assistance. Even if their parents try to help, they end up in the depths of despair, with tragic results at times.

Fortunately, there are many resources and trained therapists that can help! Girls are recognized as being able to injure just as seriously - if not more so - than their male counterparts. Growing up is difficult, and there are bound to be some fights along the way. But if the scope, duration and magnitude of a "falling out" between your daughter and her friends appears to be beyond the scope of the norm, then its time to dig a little deeper and make sure she's not being victimized.

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Comments 41 comments

stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

I agree, John! I meant to include in my Hub that because the schools do not appear to be doing a good enough job instructing children, that other groups (scouts and religious groups) can step up and help. Certainly as a den leader for 10 year old boys, we try to touch on these issues. But with the "Laura" case above (someone I know really well - and no, its not me) it was shocking how little anyone did to help back then. Thank you so much for the fantastic comments, as always! Steph


Stacie Naczelnik profile image

Stacie Naczelnik 8 years ago from Seattle

Bullying really cannot be accepted ever (and ignoring it is a form of acceptance). I'm so glad you wrote this hub, hopefully it will encourage more discussion on this topic.


RainbowRecognizer profile image

RainbowRecognizer 8 years ago from Midwest

I'm also glad to read this, although my youngins will be welcome to come home for school should any of this type of awfulness affect them. Something about the group school experience that breeds this is just wrong! I was subject to bullying after an unfortunate incident in life and the schools did a terrible job of helping me with it. Still a little bitter 10+ years later. I agree that it needs to be exposed and absolutely not tolerated. Exactly, Stacie, ignoring is accepting. Good point! Thanks again for writing it, Steph.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Stacie and RainbowRecognizer - this hit really close to home for me. I really appreciate the comments! I definitely hope that some people can read this and be helped a bit. I too had some bullying. I thought about including my story, but there was plenty in the hub (maybe in the future....) I worry about my own daughter, not to mention my sons, but the dynamic does seem to be different for boys and girls! Steph


Rhym O'Reison profile image

Rhym O'Reison 8 years ago from Crowley, Tx

This is a really great hub. The bad thing is that not everyone grows out of these behaviors. Some girls never stop acting like either teen-age beauty queens or bullies, and you see them in the workplace, in stores and your social circles. The one place you won't see them is in a group of good, mature, loving friends, because they never learned how to develop those kinds of relationships.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Rhym O'Reison, I think you are so correct. I stopped trying to reconcile with the girls that I fell out of favor with many years ago. Heck, if they're not mature enough, then why waste my time! I can't believe it but my 20 year high school reunion was such an eye opener last fall. Geesh. I was so sad, yet encouraged at the same time. My goodness, you would have thought that some people would have grown up.... LOL. Oh well. I had fun, and mingled with the ones with whom I knew I could be mature with!


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Brilliant hub with lots of information for the parent of school age children.

Very true, I have seen it happen to one of our granchildren. If he retaliated he was punished and the one inciting it got away with it. So he took the abuse in the end so as not to be expelled from school. Even though he was the innocent party.

Thanks for sharing this.


johnngd profile image

johnngd 8 years ago from Sydney

Great post Steph. You've touched on a really serious issue that we all need to be aware of and alert to do something about it if it rears it's ugly head. I found this good Emotional Intellegence Test - it's a good way to see how you rank and maybe help those who need to improve in areas.http://www.queendom.com/tests/access_page/index.ht...


jonixk profile image

jonixk 8 years ago from Lisbon

great article steph. In my country this is being talked about a lot in the last days, because of students/teachers violence, which is becoming extreme.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Bullying is something that can happen to anyone at any time. Not limited to young people, bullying persists among adults in the work place and on the playing field as well. We all need to be more aware of where bullying lurks and whom it targets, because to remain indifferent is to encourage this pervasive social disorder. 

Steph, your excellent hub promotes the conversation, commentary, and action we need in order to make a badly needed change. I know I will be sharing your hub with everyone I know.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Eileen, that makes me so sad about your grandson! Boy, clearly more education needs to take place. johnngd, super link - thank you for including it. I agree about the emotional intelligence aspect. Thank you for your comments too, jonixk. In the US, we focus on the problem here, but obviously it should be addressed anywhere the pain and violence is taking place. And terrible things happen when bullied students strike out - that is an entirely different hub. Sally's Trove, yes, you are so right! Bullying takes place at all levels and anytime there is a lack of maturity, jealousy, etc. Thank you so much for sharing the information!


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

i just want to echo above comments! i cannot add anymore words except this is an excellent hub for such a serious cause which needs to be stopped in it's tracks!!

If your reading this hub and your a bully , trust me, your not big, your not clever and you will regret being a bully one day n what goes around will come back and bite you right on your @ss!!!..:/


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

Steph,

Another great Hub on an incredibly sad topic! I am one who always goes for the underdog, so it is hard for me to stand by and do nothing concerning "bullying" at any level. Junior High is such a nasty age, and High School doesn't really get any easier when it comes to social status. I have always felt that making sure my child has an ample supply of good self esteem, having a good communication system with them, and simply being involved in their activities can help this situation greatly. Social pressure is so nasty, my motto has always been, "Please give me a child that is a nerd with good self esteem!" Popularity brings a price with it, and I don't think that it is worth what one has to pay to achieve it, especially in junior and high school. I am of the same opinion as Wendy on "Hook" when she referred to Captain Hook and his bullying, "He must not have had a mommy!" I think love is the cure for even the poor bully!


cflynn profile image

cflynn 8 years ago from Ireland

Great work steph. My 2 boys are very young yet but i am very mindfull of the topic of bullying. I too feel sorry for the bullys because there is clearly something not right at home for them. So no surpirise that the parents were aggressive and not helpful when approached about the bullying.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Cflynn, I agree. My kids are young too, although my oldest is 10, coming up on that age! In the Doghouse - yes, Wendy's line is so perfect from Hook. I sure wish there was a way to pinpoint those bullies and help them. Great parents like you and others will help. We do need better resources in the school and elsewhere. Compu-Smart, true. Bullying is not a sign of anything but weakness and cowardice.


Gadzooks profile image

Gadzooks 8 years ago from United Kingdom

Its good to see this stuff really being made an issue over the last few years, in the UK at least. For a long time this kind of behaviour was overlooked...


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Gadzooks - I can't agree more! Its about time!


Graceful Guardian 8 years ago

I agree with everyone who thinks there should be more done in schools about this,where I live they have practicly dropped outside supervisions in the schools and bulling goes on in every school,even racism.Had my girl come home from here first two weeks in kindedergarten saying to me and her father,you guys should not be married for your skin color is different.Its starts too young for any child.


Emile Damas 8 years ago

Steph

It is not enough to have the media report on the most sensational stories of the type you discuss. What is needed is exactly what you have done: a well researched piece on the issue that covers all the bases and allows the reader to access the impact of these occurrences on our lives and inspires us to take action or at least be proactive when we are faced with the probability of something like this occurring in our communities


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you so much Emile for such an insightful comment. It is so appreciated! Steph


Fancy That profile image

Fancy That 8 years ago

Remember, bullies only bully to protect themselves from bullying!

Thats usually the case. That or they have issues at home.


RUTHIE17 8 years ago

Good Hub.  Being bullied at school is something that stays with you all your life. 

It's been 53 years since I had to face down a gang of girls in my elementary school.  Yes, it was going on even back then.  The taunts and small cruelites live with you forever.  It only stopped for me when, after the leader started in on my little sister, I called her out after school one afternoon and punched her in the nose.  Once the other kids saw she and her group could be stopped, her reign of terror was over.

Remember this all happened back in the late 50's and girls weren't supposed to fight.  I remember it caused quite a to-do at school and in the neighborhood but it sure felt good to stop the recess cruelty and not to have to run home every afternoon to keep away from all of them.

OMG--I think somewhere it here I may have given away my age!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Ruthie - thank you for sharing your comment! You know, I had a similar experience in having to stand up to bullies that had been hurting my sisters. It stays with me to this day, too. I can believe that you still have those sharp memories so many years later. That is the sad fact of bullying.


ngureco profile image

ngureco 8 years ago

Good hub here. Its as if you were writing about my story when I was a kid. I maybe thousands of kilometres away but the story seems the same world over. I tend to think this behavour reflects how the parents are.


Julie A. Johnson profile image

Julie A. Johnson 8 years ago from Duluth, MN

Great and thorough piece Steph. Unfortunately bullying has gotten out of control, and as a teacher, I've seen plenty of it. Authorities try to police students, but a lot of this starts at home when kids go online and gang up on each other. Parents need to be monitoring their children's computer activities. Behavior, like putting others down, starts early, and parents nneed to address these issues when kids are young! Thanks Steph for an important article.

Julie


Stooge profile image

Stooge 8 years ago

Bullying happens in every country and it has been happening since ages. Still, generation after generation, it is getting more violent and meaner. I was aware of the fact that a large number of students do not want to go to school because of bullying. Girl bulies also have always been there. It is just that they have started getting fame only in this century. So, it is a showtime for them.

A little bit of fun never hurt anybody but kids have got very violent today.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

ngureco, yes - you are right. There are mean, petty people the world over. Sorry to hear that you had a hard time with it!

Julie, I bet you've seen your share of this as a teacher. I can't agree more with the fact that parents need to step up and be aware of what their children are doing. Setting a good example is not enough.

Stooge- I agree 100%. Bullying is very frightening this day and age, compared with 20-30 years ago. The rash of school shootings in the past 10 years is but one sign. Thanks for the great comments.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

I referenced you on my recent hub about manipulative Homecoming Queens. I get it.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Storytellerrus - thank you! I will go check it out. I could link back to your hub. Homecoming Queens and Girl Bullies - a perfect fit.


silver 6 years ago

Man, i had the worst experience..and it was the worst in middle school..though I"m 27, these feelings started coming back after I read about the death of Pheobe Prince. I had already been bullied for 3 years at a new elementary school, then endured two years of the worst hell in middle school. In middle school, I made friends with a girll, but she betrayed me and became best friends with a girl who hated me, and that was the worst. I was isolated, threw my lunch away because I didn't want to go to the cafeteria, and was suicidal by 8th grade! It was hell..


Naarah 6 years ago

WOW! I am 12 years old and I am in grade 7. I thought you done a wonderful job creating this article, I myself have girls at school that are like some of the people that are in your article. I have passed this on to many of my friends for reading. Thanks heaps Naarah xx


Lone 6 years ago

I'm glad that there's some people out there that understand this! I've had bully problems my entire LIFE pretty much. My parents never try to figure out why I act the way I do...


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Very intelligent article which really spoke in volume about female bullying.


stessily 4 years ago

Steph, In school girls were the worst bullies, far worse than the guys; it never ceased to amaze me as I observed all the bullying directed at other girls that empathy and compassion were so lacking in these bullies. And it doesn't stop with grade school or high school. I've observed bullying in the work place, from the perspective of being a fellow employee as well as from being a customer; there just always seems to be a bully in every crowd.

Well done.


bri 4 years ago

i have been bullied it so hard! steal dealing with it!


lombardo 4 years ago

this is so awsome ! thank you for the help (:


LovelyChris71 profile image

LovelyChris71 4 years ago from New Jersey

Women are supposed to be nurturing some females beat up males and are far from nurturing. I knew of a few female bullies that beat boys up when I was in school.


jyst of it 4 years ago

Bullying comes in all forms and all combinations of people. It's called cliques.... disgusting!


joaneleanor 4 years ago

My daughter in Alexandria, VA, by Marie Smeallie, was cyber bullied and had vicious sexual rumors spread about her starting in 9th grade because her boyfriend had shown some interest in her. Dealing with the kid stuff was no problem, but my daughter was crushed when she heard from friends about adults talking about her supposed behavior at dinner parties and school functions. At one get together I was even approached by a mom who counseled me that my husband should be spending more quality time with my daughter. So in our town bullying is not just a kid problem but an adult problem as well. Our family is very close and we are strong so it all worked out OK in the end. But I can't help but wonder how a weaker child/family would have gotten through this.


Annie 3 years ago

Yeah I definitely appreciate this article so much! I've recently had the biggest issue at my school (I'm 14 going on 15) one girl somehow is using me to take the light off her situation which involved sexual photos.. She's now decided to turn many of the people in my year level against me, and even though I've tried to keep the issue between the 2 of us, it seems she doesn't realize that...any ideas on what I can do guys? Please, because I've been told by these girls that they'll slap me and all that...


leslie 18 months ago

annie forget the haters and carry on there are other people past your secondary school

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