Bully: a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. Some commonly found synonyms for bully, according to www.dictionary.com: persecutor, oppressor, tyrant, tormentor, intimidator, thug, ruffian, strong-arm. Difficult to mentally place little girls in the same category as these nouns? It was for me too.
Though as much as the education majors, nannies, and first time parents of the newborn baby girl next door would like to believe girl-on-girl bullying has not become the norm, well I’m sorry to burst your bubble of naivety, but it has. The once seldom heard idea of the “mean girl” has now developed into a full fledged substantial, conventional, worldwide type of female. Recent studies have shown that this “mean girl” now comes in not only all ethnicities, hair colors, heights, and weights, but in all ages as well! Yes, the “mean girl,” along with her cliques, secrets, and crayon-hogging tendencies, is in your daughter’s preschool classroom.
I know what you’re thinking, five-year-old girls like dolls and ponies, ice cream cones and “Dora the Explorer.” Five-year-old girls are not devious. How could they be and how could this have happened? Whether a high number of older sisters accidentally taped “Gossip Girl” over their little sister’s “Dora the Explorer” episode I do not know, yet the growing number of bright eyed and manipulative little kindergarteners has to have developed from somewhere.
While the easiest target to blame as the cause of this Regina George uprising is the television industry, I feel the real cause is slightly closer to home. Don’t get me wrong though, the characters in shows “depicting” high school and college life are far from acceptable female role models. “Gossip girl, 90210, Laguna Beach, The Hills, Greek, One Tree Hill,” the list is endless and the show times are convenient. Every one of these programs airs between 8 PM and 10 PM, or in other words, right after homework and dinner and right before bed time. Is it healthy for middle school aged girls to watch glamorous and sticklike young women backstab and torment one another before falling asleep and dreaming? Of course not. Is it influential? Of course it is. The glorification and allurement of these TV shows are used to make them surreal yet captivating rather than focusing on the confidence crushing and dehumanization behind all the glamour. These shows are most definitely extremely influential on the preteen and teenage female population, yet I cannot see them being as influential on the pre-k and elementary aged girls as when I was their age my bed time was seven thirty.
So to all you parents who are concerned about how to prevent your little angel still in preschool or elementary school from becoming a little devil, you can put away your parenting books and stop interrogating your friend with a teenage daughter. The answer is, you. You are the cause. If your daughter is acting out and her teacher has called home to tell you that she is bullying other students, it’s your fault. Just kidding! Well, kind of just kidding. Parenting methods and home life affect every child differently, yet if a young girl is a bully; it’s because of something she has observed. Children are most prone to picking up mannerisms and behaviors at younger ages. Cliches such as kids being like parrots because they repeat everything they hear and their brain being like a sponge’s, absorbing everything, are fairly true. Even if a parent is as loving and affectionate as they come, the way they treat their spouse, other family members, and even friends is just as influential on their child. Although this information should be common knowledge, in reality, every parent does not follow Dr. Phil’s guide to parenting, hence the growing population of miniature candidates to star in the movie, Mean Girls 2.
Unfortunately, awareness of the growing population of mean girls in elementary schools and even preschools in many school districts still remains obsolete. Much of the problem with spreading awareness about younger mean girls is how unbelievable the issue actually is. Most of those involved in girl-on-girl bullying at this young of an age are not even fully aware of what is happening to them or what they are doing.
Just last year, my six-year-old female cousin told me an extremely disturbing story about how a girl in her kindergarten class had bullied her. In short, the girl (we’ll rename her Emily), Emily, would ask my cousin to come over and play with her only when the teacher said no one was allowed out of their seat. Although Emily was well aware that if someone was to leave their seat they would be put in time out, she continued to flatter and compliment my cousin until she gave in to walking over to her chair. After getting in trouble once or twice, my cousin quickly caught on to what Emily was doing and stopped going over to her chair. Although after my cousin caught on Emily eventually did stopped, what she did was clearly hurtful and worse, almost impossible for a five year old to explain. Assuming this was if not the first one of the first encounters my cousin had with a “mean girl,” because of her obvious lack of knowledge on the topic she had no idea how to explain what had happened to her. She had no idea as to what bullying or “a bully” even was. Being fairly confident that my cousin’s bully, “Emily”, had no idea what bullying was either, one can only assume Samantha acted this way from observation. I have no idea as to what Emily’s home life is like, but I can say it is more likely that this five year old learned these actions from observation rather than from watching a television show aired past her bedtime.
Rather than striving to become the nicest girl, or the smartest girl, or the most athletic girl, or even the girl liked by the most boys (despite the lack of self worth accomplished from achieving this goal), girls have decided the meanest girl is the girl they need to become. Forming friendships like alliances, sending instant messages like telegrams, using secrets to control people like hostages are used to control countries, female social circles are becoming more and more like world wars. Though unlike world wars, instead of leaving the battle field with external scars that with time will stop hurting and deaths from soldiers dying for their country, girls are leaving school with internal scars that they will always be able to feel and deaths resulting from “pranks” leading everyone from the sociologist to the common person to question how negatively the “mean girl” is actually affecting the humanity of the human race.