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MEAN Girls Gina Cunningham, School Psychologist Gabriella Whitbeck, School Counselor February 7, 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "MEAN Girls Gina Cunningham, School Psychologist Gabriella Whitbeck, School Counselor February 7, 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 MEAN Girls Gina Cunningham, School Psychologist Gabriella Whitbeck, School Counselor February 7, 2007

2 Why are we here? 80% of a child’s relationally aggressive behavior is due to environmental factors such as poor parenting and negative peer influence (2005) Girl bullying starts as early as preschool (2005) 25% of students report that teachers intervene in bullying situations, while 71% believe that they always intervene Children are the targets of bullying about once every 3-6 minutes from the start of kindergarten to the end of first grade (NIMH, 2003) 70% of girls have been mistreated by their friends (2002)

3 Exploring Relational Aggression Defining MEAN Girls –Relational Aggression, i.e. “Female bullying” Dr. Nicki Crick defines RA as, “emotional violence and bullying behaviors focused on damaging an individuals social connections within the peer group.” RA can be any act that actively excludes a person from making or maintaining friendships or being integrated into the peer group –TWO primary components Imbalance of power Intent to harm –Value friendships but also used as an effective weapon

4 Understanding the Female Teen Brain Development of female brain Structural differences –Language & Hearing –Hippocampus (memory and emotion) Primary Values - Create connections with female peers -Develop cliques with secret rules Role of hormones & reaction to stress

5 Types of Relational Aggression Covert Aggression – indirect hidden acts of aggression, social isolation and excluding Physical/Overt Aggression – direct, blatant acts of aggression, can be physical or verbal Verbal Aggression – obvious and hidden verbal acts of aggression towards a child such as threats, putdowns and name calling Proactive Relational Aggression – proactive behaviors are a means for achieving a goal for example, a girl may exclude someone to maintain her own social status “She’s the queen bee – the star, those other two are just her little workers.” (Mean Girls)

6 The Teen Royalty The Queen – she’s manipulatively affectionate. She defines right and wrong by the loyalty or disloyalty around her. She won’t take responsibility for hurting another’s feelings. She seeks revenge. She feels power and control over her environment. She can be arrogant, materialistic, selfish and superficial. She gets a rush from being superior. She’s charming to adults. –“–“She’s the queen bee – the star, the other two are just her little workers.” The Sidekick – second to the Queen, but also can be the victim. She always supports the Queen because this is where the power lies. She feels the Queen is the authority figure in her life telling her how to think, dress and what to do; she allows herself to be pushed around by the Queen, and will even lie for her. The Gossip (the gatekeeper) – extremely secretive, tries to bring in gossip, gives the perception of being a good listener and trustworthy, seems to be friends with everyone. Rarely excluded from the group. Seemingly nice, then uses confidential information to improve her situation. The Floater – moves freely among cliques, avoids conflicts, higher self- esteem because her sense of self is not based on just one group. Does not want to exclude other girls, not competitive. Has some power, but does not equal that of the Queen.

7 The Teen Royalty, con’t The Bully – defiant, outspoken and tough. Outwardly cruel to weaker people. Bullying is mostly covert, i.e. “accidentally” bumping into them or hitting. The Bystanders – girls who are not aggressors or victims but are caught somewhere in between. She finds herself having to choose between friends. She is the peacemaker. The Wannabee – she will do anything to be a part of the inner circle of the Queen and the Sidekick. A gossiper and pleaser. Does not have a personal opinion outside of what the Queen thinks. Indecisive and reluctant to go against the group. Often gossiped about and used by the Queen. The Target (victim) – she feels helpless to stop the other girl’s behavior. She feels excluded, like a loser or a nobody. Gives a defensive stance that is designed to shut people out in order to mask her hurt. Feels humiliated by the rejection she feels from other girls. Feels exposed and vulnerable resulting in temptation to change herself in order to fit in.

8 How well do you understand the roles? …continued to pass on a rumor that you knew wasn’t true –Bystander …been turned away from a lunch table by a group who did not want you to sit down –Victim/Target …made up something to get someone in trouble –Bully …”don’t tell anyone I told you this, BUT…” –Gossip “Do you know what people say about you? They say you are a homeschooled jungle freak who’s a less hot version of me!” –Queen …”hey Sarah, I’m not going to be able to go to town today with you guys because I am going to the mall with Katie, Jesse and Meg.” -floater …”No Jackie, Regina really did like want to invite you; her parents are like so totally lame that they only allowed her to invite 50 people! (to self….”Is she kidding? Regina would NEVER invite a loser like Jackie to her hot party) –sidekick …(Jackie to self)…”I would do anything to get invited to that party…I mean, anything!” -wannabee

9 Short and Long-term Effects of Relational Aggression Short-term effects –Loneliness/Isolation (#1) –Feelings of rejection –Anger –Frustration –Inability to trust –Feelings of powerlessness –Low self-esteem –Poor relational skills Long-term effects –Poor academic performance –Hopelessness –Depression (#2) –Substance Abuse –Self-injury –Eating disorders –Suicidal ideation (#3) –Stress/Anxiety –Separation anxiety “The weird thing about hanging out with Regina was that I could hate her, and at the same time, I still wanted her to like me.” (Mean Girls)

10 Methods of Relational Aggression RA girls are very creative in their methods of behavior and their motivations drive them to always be one up on everyone else. –Exclusion- Manipulative Affection –Ignoring- Three Way Calling –Spreading Rumors- Videophones –Verbal Insults- Cyber Bullying –Teasing –Intimidation –Eye Rolling –Taunting Negative comments are like a stray cat. The more you feed them, the more they hang around.

11 Cyber-Bullying What is it? –Using the internet or other mobile devices to send or post harmful or cruel text or images to bully others. 18% of students in grade 6-8 said they had been cyber- bullied at least once in the last couple of months; and 6% said it happened to them 2 or more times 11% of students in grade 6-8 said they had cyber-bullied another person at least once in the last couple of months Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyber-bullying “But you do have to watch out for ‘frenemies’.” “What are ‘frenemies’”? “Frenemies are enemies who act like friends. We call them frenemies.”

12 Cyber-Bullying and Girls Girls use various methods to cyber-bully each other. –Kowalski (2005) reports that of those who had been cyber-bullied: 58% were victims of IM 28% were bullied in a chat room 20% were bullied on a website 19% were bullied through email 14% were bullied through text messaging

13 Parent Tips for Cyber-Bullying You must know what your child is doing online. You must have access to their email, MySpace and IM accounts. It is O.K. to check up on your child’s online activity with their password, or by having them show you themselves. KEY: do enough to keep them honest and safe.

14 Motivations of Relational Aggression FearPower Control Popularity Security

15 Old Lady or Young Girl???

16 What can the school do? The Good News letter –Guidance will create a separate newsletter for ONLY for good things that HCC students have done. Emotional Literacy –Many girls lack the vocabulary to appropriately express how they feel. –Curriculum –Role Plays and/or literature writing Teach relationship building skills –Teach empathy –Explore normative beliefs –Encourage involvement in extra curricular activities Positive Empowerment

17 What can parents do? Involve girls in activities outside of school so they are exposed to different groups of people. Always be available to listen and talk to your child about what is going on in their life. Do not downplay the importance of an incident. Empathize with your child when they share something they see as important. Teach kindness and model this behavior. Be aware of your own inadvertent behaviors in relationships. Remember that while girls may tell you about being the victim of an incident, they often won’t tell you about being the aggressor (queen bee, bully). If your daughter is the girl “in the middle,” firmly but lovingly encourage her to take the high road and support the victim, or at least not take part in the aggression. Be a positive role model by helping your child understand what makes a healthy relationship.

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