Friday, January 24, 2014

Bullying "Mean Girls" Style From Kindergarten Through High School...Watch Out For "Yik Yak"

Cover of "Mean Girls (Special Collector's...
Cover via Amazon

It seems bullying is starting in kindergarten...


Just this past week an ABC News headline caught our attention - 'Mean Girls'-Style Bullying Happening in Kindergarten. Since we were working on a bullying series we decided to check it out. After watching the news video and perusing the transcript, we realized that it would be helpful to do a little research on the 2004 film Mean Girls. If you have not seen the film Mean Girls, you can read a balanced review by Roger Ebert here.  While it was not the first film that featured Lindsay Lohan it was the film that made hers a household name. It also brought fame to Rachel McAdams. As Mr. Ebert offered some 10 years ago, cliques, gossip, and bullying or meanness are built into high school...
"But they [girls] may find it interesting that the geeks are more fun than the queen bees, that teachers have feelings, and that you'll be happier as yourself than as anybody else. I guess the message is, you have to live every day as if you might suddenly be hit by a school bus."
While Mr. Ebert's comments may seem a bit cavalier, it is important to remember that he was referring to high-school aged girls...and what a high-school student may be able to deal with or work through could make  a middle school student, grammar school student and certainly kindergarten little girl vulnerable to anxiety disorder and/or depression.

So how do we help our daughters deal with "mean girls"?


You may have heard of Rebecca Ann Sedwick. She is the 12 year old Floridian girl who jumped to her death on September 9, 2013, after being subjected to bullying for over one year both in social media and in person. Her story is horrific and one that NBC News' Maria Shriver discussed at length on the Today Show last October with Shelby Holliday of  Channel One News and Psychiatrist Sue Varma. Watch as Shriver, Holliday and Varma view and review this case as reported by NBC's Kate Snow.




If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Shelby Holliday and Dr. Varma offer some suggestions for parents.
  •  Be aware of changes in your child's sleeping habits, eating habits and social habits
  • Monitor their online social media behavior
  • Validate their emotional experiences, bolster their self esteem
  • Talk to your children about empathy, teach your children to be empathetic and to look for the common ground
  • Reach out, have a conversation

Parents should stay abreast of new social media apps


Staying tuned-in to all the new apps that become available for "staying in touch" can take dedication. Apps come and go, or at least have waves of popularity.  Just this week we learned of a new app called Yik Yak. School administrators around the country are alarmed about the Yik Yak program. It is a free app available through iTunes and rated 12+. It is described as an "anonymous social wall for anything and everything." But as WAFF in Huntsville, Alabama reports it is different than other apps insofar as the user does not have to have a user name. Users' messages are sent out anonymously to all other Yik Yak users within a 10 mile radius.

In Birmingham, Alabama, the school superintendent and school principals are alarmed about Yik Yak and taking action. As one school principal said: "Any time there’s something out there where you can be anonymous and make false accusations or say things you think are funny, middle school and high school kids fall into that trap a lot of times."

 

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