About Me

My photo
Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States
Hello, and welcome to my blog! I like to write about children's literature, fandom studies, video games, feminism, and pop culture in general. I've recently earned my Ph.D. in children's literature ( Fall 2012) at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I also teach English (composition, British literature, and women's literature) at Sowela Technical Community College. Oh, and I like cats! [Banner image artwork by Yuki Midorikawa]

Friday, April 2, 2010

Mean Girls

To all those who think cyber bullying is not a serious issue, or that bullying in general does little more than "help kids grow a back bone" (someone actually said this!), there's this article:

The Real Mean Girls: 15-year-old girl commits suicide after bullying

I'm torn on this. To exhibit a complete lack of compassion toward other human beings is sociopathic behavior, so I wonder at the sanity of those bullying students. On the other hand, I also know that adolescents' brains are not fully developed, and so young people tend to be more selfish and do not consider others' feelings as much. I also suspect a lot of the postmortem bullying is the result of peer pressure, or "well all my friends are doing it, so I want to look cool and do it, too (even though I privately feel this is probably wrong and shouldn't do it)."

Regardless, the faculty at the high school who knew about this -- FOR SHAME. The principle had better seek drastic action now. Professionals should be called in, and they need to figure out how to nip this bullying in the bud. Didn't two children just get beat up and burned in Florida because of texting/virtual bullying? And that reminds me; parents need to monitor kids' online behavior. And quit giving children cell phones! I didn't have a cell phone until I was in college! What's a high school student doing with a cell phone? Oh yes, I know; times have changed now. The thing is, if one parent refused to give her child a cell phone, all the OTHER kids with cell phones would likely bully that child. It's ridiculous.

Well, the school should perhaps ban cell phone usage in school (no cell phones brought to school or they're confiscated) ... scratch that to include any electronic equipment. They are children in school, not professionals. They are not mature enough to handle these things. All reports of bullying should be punished severely. Parents should be called in, etc.

Of course, there are countless adults who hop online every day to leave nasty, threatening messages in political forums and comment pages, so is it any wonder that our children are doing the same to one another? Has the internet bred this kind of behavior, this form of faceless bullying?

Repeated bullying and being bullied can cause a child to grow into a mean, distrustful adult. Fostering an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding can result in future young adults who see all sides to a problem, think outside the box, and are generally more accepting of others. Think of the high school children who organized an anti-hate gathering in protest against a Westboro Baptist Church visit: LINK

An environment of fear is not a learning environment. If people lack compassion for those who are tormented, it may be because they have been tormented themselves, and no one ever helped them. Thus they continue the vicious cycle.

That's all I'll say on the matter of "bullying just gives kids back bones."

Two of my favorite films deal with this same issue (and no, not Mean Girls): Speak and Odd Girl Out. Speak (starring Kristen Stewart) is probably the better known title, but Odd Girl Out approaches the issue more directly (and so some might say, less artistically). But I enjoy both immensely.


  1. Hi, just found your blog and this entry. I must say I agree with you whole-heartedly. Finally, somebody who doesn't try to play such a serious matter down and says something like "Oh, it's not that bad, there are things far worse, it's not the internet's fault ecc. ecc." I can't stand people who never use their brains and prefer to overlook really serious things like cyber bullying, just because they're afraid not to go with the flow and think differently. There're too many of those soulless people nowadays.
    I wish more people would think like you. Honestly. I think it would make the world a better place if we all started to use, really use our brains more often.
    Thank you for letting me know there still are sensible, *thinking* people out there!

  2. Well, I wouldn't say "It's the internet's fault," to be perfectly honest. That reeks of blame-shifting, when I believe the real culprits are the parents and, to some degree, the schools. Now, I honestly don't believe it's a teacher's or a principal's job to raise their students. But schools do need to set boundaries. From what I understand, parents all but run public schools.

    I am constantly amazed when I talk to some parents. They give their children "virtual" free reign. But at the same time, how do you monitor a child's access to online content? (I'm not talking about "Don't let your child view porn!" but more along the lines of "Don't let your 12 year old sign up for Facebook.")

    I don't know. I feel a little old-fashioned when I rail against cell phones and Facebook. But when kids are literally killing one another (and themselves) via these media, what kind of reaction are we supposed to have?

    Grr, I never have any concrete answers on this blog! But thanks for your comment!! :)

  3. I don't blame the internet in itself, either. It's not the media that's the real problem, but the way we make use of them. And the way we let our children make use of them. This "virtual free reign" you mentioned- exactly that is the biggest problem, IMHO.
    Concrete answers are not always possible. I usually can't find them, either.^_^