I am overwhelmed with private messages from girls after they hear me speak, and one of the things that I continually say to them is:
Hang on, just hang on. This may not be a great time in your life but hang on, your time is coming.Sometimes they don’t believe me, but then I tell them stories about my own life. While I had a great high school career, there was a lot of stuff that wasn’t so great in my life, and I got over it because I just kept believing that there has to be something better.
When I share stories that happened to me, they can’t even believe it because when they see me speak they think I’ve got it all together. That’s one thing that I really try to show is, ‘yeah I’ve got a lot stuff together but there is a lot of stuff that’s still messed up’.
I just want to be real, and that’s what students are looking for – someone to connect with them on a mind and heart level so they feel like someone gets them.” — Harriet Turk [excerpt from the October 11th, 2013 episode of the Jeff Yalden Show]
What is Bullying?
Bullying is an aggressive behavior among our teenagers that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time.
Both the kids who are bullied and those who bully others have serious lasting problems. A lot f the bullying today leads to thoughts of suicide and depression.
The more parents step in, the more that we can do to help your child. Bullying is not going away. We need to teach our children how they can respond in the right way.
What’s the best way to respond to bullying?
The best way to respond to being bullied is to not engage. Don’t fight back with words but ignore it, and walk away.
You may think that I don’t understand what you’re going through – but I do. I have children myself. I see what goes on. I was a child myself. I dealt with it, and I’m telling you that the best thing you can do is not give people the power over how you feel about yourself.
Why do girls want to get their friends to viciously attack or spread rumors about another girl?
Girls run in packs. If one girl feels a certain way then everybody feels that way. Even if a couple girls don’t feel that way, a lot of times they are scared to stand up because if they do then the pack is going to turn against them as well.
The bullying does not start with something serious, like, “She is sleeping with that guy.” The bullying between girls is going to be “She’s ugly,” or “She dresses bad.” From there it’s an emotional roller coaster that builds up.
Girls sometimes don’t know how to stop because they’re taught to be nice, to take care of each other and to nurture. That is part of a girl’s nature.
They are scared to step out of their pact.
The difference between male and female bullying
Teaching your kids to be strong and resilient starts early, especially with girls. If you’re a man you are taught to be strong, but for a girl you’re taught to be pretty.
Guys bully about performance, girls bully about something that can’t be changed – their looks.
What do girls get bullied about the most? Appearance. And there isn’t much you can change about your appearance. Guys don’t ever say, “Look at that dude, he is so ugly.”
Tips for parents and educators
When your child is depressed or when your child makes a remark about bullying, stop and take the time to ask them what’s happening.
Sometimes as parents we forget that adolescent problems are huge in their eyes. They were huge to us when we were younger too. As we grow up we realize that there are bigger problems out there. But to a teen, not being like by his or her peers is a huge deal. That is their whole world.
We have to look at their problems and be able to engage in open communication. If you don’t have great communication, start writing them letters. Let them know that you care that way.