Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rethinking Sarah

Female Bullying: The Story of Sarah

Female bullying looks different from male bullying in that it is primarily verbal and emotional. This isn’t to say that female bullying can’t become physical, as it occasionally does. Let’s take a look at Sarah’s situation to gain a better understanding of female-on-female bullying.

Sarah had grown up in the school district she currently attended. Through elementary and now middle school, she had spent most of her time with a group of about six or seven girlfriends. In the middle of her eighth-grade year, things became a little rocky with one of the girls in her group, Tina, who was arguably the leader. One day at the lunch table, Sarah mentioned that she thought a certain boy, Travis, was a "hottie." Unbeknownst to Sarah, Travis was currently being pursued by Tina. Tina reacted by calling Sarah a "slut." This led to considerable awkwardness, and Sarah, who tried to avoid confrontation, didn’t respond and fell silent.

Over the next few weeks, things began to get worse and worse. Sarah returned from her gym class to find the word "Ho!" scrawled in pencil on the door of her locker. She quickly tried to erase the word before anyone else saw it, but some around her noticed. The atmosphere at the lunch table was becoming more and more tense as Tina continually taunted Sarah, referring to
her as a "bitch" and "whore." Some of the other girls at the table began to give Sarah the cold shoulder, more in an attempt to stay in the good graces of the dominant Tina

The next day, a group of girls from another clique came up to Sarah’s locker in the morning before homeroom. They snickered and laughed. "What’s the matter?" Sarah queried. "So . . . how was it?" one of the girls replied. "How was what?" Sarah said. "Well, Tina told everyone on MySpace last night that you had sex with some kid." Sarah felt the tears of frustration seep into her eyes; she couldn’t help it. She ran away crying, which only fueled the poisonous gossip and rumors that Tina had spread.

That night she locked herself in her room. Sarah’s mother knew that something was terribly wrong, but was unable to pry any information from her daughter as to what it might be. How could Sarah tell her mother? Imagine the embarrassment! She, too, felt like Odysseus, trapped in the Cyclops cave. Her crew was being eaten one by one and the situation was looking ever grimmer.

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