Bullying by Girls May Go Unnoticed, but it’s Just as Damaging as Physical Bullying


How Girls Bully to Destroy Other Girls’ who threaten their Social Status

Almost any teenage girl can quickly identify with the returning hit show, Pretty Little Liars. In this girl-drama, a group of girls are being tormented by an anonymous threat either by text message or in other creative ways. The show is all about a friend of theirs who was murdered a few years ago supposedly by the same person who is harassing them.

When it comes down to it, it is all about popularity in the world of a teenage girl. While in everyday life a murder is not thrown into the mix like on PLL, the relational aggression that is constantly being used in high school is a serious issue.

Relational aggression may be considered psychological abuse aimed to lower an individual’s (or group of individuals’) self-esteem. It can take the form of name-calling, gossiping and exclusion. This form of bullying is often overlooked as “normal teenage girl behavior” and is more common among teenage girls than teenage boys.

Girls often use manipulation as a means of getting what they want. In the show, the four girls fall victim to this anonymous number in every episode. The girls feel trapped and compelled to follow the lead of the group’s leader and go along with the other girls in the clique.  Feeling cornered by an aggressor is a very unpleasant feeling that many girls can relate to. While most teens are not being manipulated by the thought of someone being murdered like on PLL, simple things regarding their reputation or social status can make girls vulnerable. Cell phones and social networking sites like Facebook play a huge role in how girls bully other girls. Take this scenario for example:

Josie was competing against another girl for the spot of class president. While they were both fully qualified for the position, the other girl received the most votes and won the election. Josie is a more reserved individual, and the other girl sees herself as top of the food chain material. Winning the election was not enough for her though. This girl felt the need to message Josie on Facebook and elaborately explain why people like her better. She writes messages to her telling her “you are set up to fail and will always have the lesser votes in anything you shoot for.” When the two were no longer Facebook “friends”, Josie started getting text messages and anonymous phone calls with demeaning messages such as, “you were never cut out for it anyway.”

As minute as this drama can seem, it’s very harmful for someone like Josie, who would never be able to stand up to it. People who are on the shy side are more prone to soak up all of the negativity and not defend themselves. Having bystanders and friends simply watch as she carries out her agenda to make other girls’ reputations sink makes a bully feel empowered. Popularity becomes more important than doing the right thing or taking the side of someone who is judged as unpopular.  So what can you do?

One strategy that seems to work is not to show a negative reaction when you’re bullied. Confidence and a smile makes bullies feel they have failed. You can’t just appear to be the bigger person; you need to feel like it. If you feel and appear more confident and powerful, there’s nothing that can be said to you by them that would even faze you. That’s not always possible though, a shy person will be a shy person, and there’s really not much that you can personally do. That’s when others need to get involved. It may seem embarrassing to have an authority figure involved, but they are the only ones who can set the record straight.

With shows like Pretty Little Liars that depict bullying as a crazy thriller, it’s very easy to fall victim to relational aggression and not recognize it. “Normal” teenage girl behavior is NOT gossiping etc., that’s bulling. And, if you know how to spot it, you have to learn and know how to end it.


Written by, Leda Costa, a volunteer with beyondbullies.org

Feb 2 2014 in Whats New admin Comments Off on Bullying by Girls May Go Unnoticed, but it’s Just as Damaging as Physical Bullying

Comments are closed.