Have you ever been bullied? Young girls are being bullied about everything; their weight, skin color, fashion and sexuality. When I was in middle school, I was constantly picked on for being too skinny, fair skinned, and having zits. On a daily basis, students and so-called friends called me Construction Paper and Casper. Instead of telling a teacher or parent about the name calling, I decided to ignore it and hoped that my fellow classmates would move on. I’m sure my former classmates have forgotten about the name calling, but ten years later I am still self-conscious when I wear dresses and shorts. I am always wondering if people are talking about how fair my skin is. Recently, a co-worker told me I needed a tan and offered to give me a coupon for the salon she visits. I’m sure my co-worker didn’t mean to be insulting or rude, but her comment brought up the emotions I felt when I was teased and bullied in middle school.
Instead of ignoring the situation, young girls should reach out to classmates, teachers and parents. Telling someone about your experience can help your self-confidence and also allow other young girls to come forward. Ziainey Stokes, a 5th grade student from West Philadelphia, wrote a letter to President Obama about how she has been a victim of bullying for several years. President Obama personally responded to Ziainey’s letter. President Obama thanked Ziainey for bringing bullying to his attention and promised to give Ziainey and other students “a safe, engaging, and enjoyable classroom.” This letter gave Ziainey the confidence she needed to enjoy her education and start an organization called No Kid Should Be Bullied at her school. To read more about Ziainey, please check out "Bullied 5th Grader Inspired by Letter From the President."
Young girls are also experiencing bullying online. More and more girls may be spreading gossip online, because it is easy and cyber bullies are less likely to be held accountable. Meghan Pearce, a 25-year-old from Arizona, found her photo and hundreds of negative comments about her appearance and sexuality. Although the website was not liable for the comments, Meghan could have sued the account holders for their comments. Sounds simple enough, right? While account holders can be sued, it can be tough to figure out who the account holder really is, since websites aren’t required to reveal the account holder’s identity. To read more about Meghan Pearce and other girls affected by online bullies, please read "Why Are Nice, Normal Girls Getting Bullied Online?"
How can bullying be prevented? Schools can create an anti-bullying leadership program, role play with students and get parents involved. Online victims can remove personal photos from their social-networking site, contact someone to get comments removed, and stop reading posts.
To learn more, please read "How to Prevent Bullying in Schools" and visit http://antibullyingprograms.org/.
Girl Museum Inc.