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I’m a massive fan of anything with quotes from ‘Mean Girls’. It’s a classic. Film of many a childhood and relevant to almost every situation – although I don’t always wear pink on Wednesdays. It’s accidentally a slightly accurate look at the inner workings of the High School Hierarchy, isn’t it? As in, your parents watched it and go ‘oh it can’t be that bad’ while you’re mentally assigning people in your class/year/school characters.
There was an article in The Sunday Times this week that tried to explain the findings of a recent survey conducted by the Uni of York and The Children’s Society, subject: happiness in kids at school. The articles’ author explored two causes: bullying and exams, ultimately deciding that exams were the root of the issue.
Now, I’m not saying that exam pressure and all the stress that comes with wanting to do well is not a very real cause of school-age unhappiness, especially when the extra layer of teacher/peer/parental expectation gets added into the mix. It’s a vicious thing to experience, but the way this article was written, to me portrayed bullying in school as nothing more than a little light teasing, that kids were far too sensitive and it wasn’t as serious cause of unhappiness.
Which I think is a really dangerous thing.
If you’re reiterating to parents/parental figures (those who watch mean girls and think it can’t be that bad) that bullying is no more than a little light teasing and character building, then you’re trivialising an issue that causes young people to develop an awful lot of issue, and at worse, end their lives. Sure, there may not be the extremes that the film Mean Girls portrays (I haven’t yet encountered a Burn Book, nor seen anyone be accidentally pushed in front of a bus) in some cases, but bullying is probably the leading cause of unhappiness in children. Kids can be mean, and that unchecked behaviour can result in individuals in later life who think nothing of how they treat people.
There are ways to deal with bullying that don’t involve convincing the new girl to infiltrate their ranks, because that never ends well.
For those experiencing it:
– tell someone! and explain why it’s making you feel upset. – try not to react in a way they’d want, as that gives them satisfaction. if you can hold off that feeling of satisfaction you take their power away from them – try to not actively avoid them, don’t give them more power – however, if you are in a situation where you can limit the amount of time you have to spend with them, do that. – find something that you love to do that distracts from the situation and that may also expand your social circle. having something to channel your emotions into.
– it takes a lot for people to admit things aren’t great, so don’t dismiss reports of bullying as nothing. it may not be the most serious of instances, but if it’s making someone you have a duty of care to upset, please don’t just dismiss it
– try not to rationalise the behaviour of the bully (i.e. boys will be boys/ the perpetrator is going through a hard time etc), because it may start the victim on a path of thinking it’s their fault, and also normalises the acts to those that are carrying them out.
there may indeed be deeper issues that are causing someone to act out, but giving them a valid reason to bully someone teaches them that it’s something that an authoritative figure green lights.
– actually uphold ‘anti-bullying’ standards in schools. deterrents don’t work unless there are actual consequences.
As I’m all for discussion, what are your thoughts on this matter? Are kids these days too sensitive, and are we dubbing the slightest bit of cattiness as bullying?