Mean Girls: How Bullying is Different for Females

By Nadia Crow, Reporter


By Kelli Sutterman

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - When most people think about bullying it's the classic scene: a bigger, athletic boy picking on a smaller, skinny boy. But girls can be bullies, too.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 46 percent of males and 26 percent of females reported they had been in physical fights.

Experts say girls use relational aggression. That’s rumor spreading, secret-sharing, and exclusion.

It's a scenario Blair Wagner's daughter, Libby, experienced in third grade. She was being bullied by girls she called friends.

"It got to one night, I tucked her in bed and she looked at me and she said, 'Mom I'm going to pray for God to take me away,'" said Wagner. "That is the feeling of helplessness. The feeling of a lack of power,” said Wagner.

Not knowing what to do, Wagner turned to Kate Wickham Elementary School counselor Jane Balvanzfor for counseling to help her daughter. After about three years, Wagner says she saw a big change in Libby.

"And now she's in high school and she doesn't take it from anybody,” said Wagner.

From that experience, a partnership between Wagner and Balvanz blossomed into a non-profit organization called "A Way Through."

"If you can start at the very foundation of girlhood, there's a much better chance for a girl to get through relational aggression and have a happier life,” said Balvanz.

Workshops like, “When Girls Hurt Girls” offer parents, educators, and young girls advice for dealing with relational aggression.

"A lot of times, a girl will say 'well, I want my friend to act a certain way' and then I have to tell her 'well we can't control other people's actions,'” said Balvanz.

But when your daughter comes home crying it's tough to know what to do. These workshops and take home DVDs with workbooks help. Parents learn to give their daughters the right skills so they're not trapped in a real bullying situation.

"Separate themselves from what's happening, understand what's going on with them emotionally, and then make a choice,” said Wagner.

For more on how you can have the workshops at your school or get a copy of the DVD just click here.

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