Unicorns, rainbows, giggles – life as a little girl starts out happy and fun. Each school day brings the excitement of spending time with our friends. We tell each other we’re going to be best friends forever.
Life can’t get any better.
And then, almost overnight, everything changes. We get to Stage 3, and the friend who used to run up to us in Kindy for a big hug every morning now runs away from us during recess because she thinks it’s a funny prank. Yeah. What can I say? Absolutely hilarious.
As we get older, we’re taught many life skills such stranger danger and online safety. We’re taught about bullying and our bully-buster program trains us to stop kids who are hurting someone verbally or physically. But when we speak up about bad behaviour from our own friends, we’re told…”oh, that’s not really bullying. That’s just girls. Girls are mean”.
Well, you know what? Enough is enough. Let’s stop making “mean girl behaviour” acceptable. Not all girls are mean or that other word starting with a ‘b’ but which I’ll get into trouble if I say now.
Any behaviour which makes you feel rejected, humiliated or isolated is outright bullying even if it is done under the radar. It’s NOT a normal part of being a girl and if we keep making excuses for it, it will never go away.
Psychologists call this undercover bullying ‘social aggression’. When it happens, it feels like a slap in the face and can make you feel shame and confusion. It happened to me, when this year I found myself in a class without any of my close friends. On the first day, I put my pencil case on a table and was about to sit down when a girl next to me said, “oh sorry, you can’t sit there, we’re saving that spot for our friend”.
Remember the ice bucket challenge? In that exact moment, I felt like someone had poured a massive bucket full of freezing water on my head. It. Was.Terrible.
Other examples of social aggression include:
• Being excluded from parties and playdates
• Talking about parties and play dates in front of girls who are not invited
• Giving the “silent treatment”
• Spreading rumors about a girl
• Saying something mean and then following it with “just joking”
• Threatening to take away friendship
These behaviours are about having control and power. The girls who practice them do it because by taking away the confidence of their friends, they feel they will become stronger and more popular. A study done in 2017 showed that 48 per cent of female students are regularly exposed to social aggression. Students aged 11 to 15 reported that they were exposed to 33 acts of social aggression during a typical week.
READ MORE: Students take a stand against bullying
But this is learned behaviour and it’s time to unlearn it. Most of the girls who do it have learnt it from adult role models. And the victims have been taught to accept it because the same adults have told them it’s normal girl behaviour.
Girls, we need to work together to stop this now, before high school where social circles become more important than our own family.
We need to stop being mean to each other and start acting with kindness and compassion. We need the tools and support to leave toxic friendships and to speak up if we don’t like how we’re being treated. And most importantly of all, adults need to stop saying things like “That’s just girls”. Because that’s NOT girls and it’s definitely not THIS girl.
Michaela Loukas, aged 11, is a student at McCallums Hill Public School.
Are you interested in writing? Neos Kosmos is offering students from Greek schools across Australia the opportunity to contribute to a supplement for our newspaper written entirely by students.The idea for the project came about to give students of Modern Greek the opportunity to use their language skills in an enjoyable way. Not only will it improve their Greek, but it will also young people a platform to express their thoughts, needs, and to also raise their concerns about what is happening in the world around them.
While the Greek language stories can be about any issue whatsoever, we also welcome articles written in English but with a focus on issues of interest to the diaspora. The project is open to students of all year levels, from kindergarten right through to high school, and all levels of Greek and English. We also welcome photographs and videos for our site.
If successful, the Neos Kosmos team believes that the project will have positive benefits on Greek language education and will also highlight issues of importance to young people regarding their Greek heritage. And our main objective from a social perspective is to engage with young people and get them thinking.For further information, Greek schools across the country are encouraged to contact Neos Kosmos’ Editor-in-Chief Sotiris Hatzimanolis directly on (03) 9482 4433, or email email@example.com