Teen Challenge - Teen Cliques and Bullying
Good Morning! Here's the Monday Morning Blog!
Happy Halloween! Are you ready for the ghosts and goblins to show up at your house tonight?
Hello, it is me Sharon from Mentoring A Dream.
Did you get a chance to touch base with your teen last week? Checking in with them is a great way to show interest and build a relationship with them. You may not get much of a response all of the time, but keep making the effort, it will pay off.
Throughout the month of October, we have talked about bullying and bullying prevention. As school has been back in session for a while now, teens have started getting into their routines and settling back in with their friends and the cliques that exist at their school. This week we will talk about what cliques are and how they treat others in their group and outside of it could be seen as bullying.
What is a clique?
As defined by Google, a clique is a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them. For teenagers, this could be a group of friends or teammates. These kinds of groups don't only appear in the school setting, but also appear in many other places in society.
I did a review on the book Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes which talks about teen cliques. It was a very relatable story with engaging characters and a great example of how things work within the social structures found in high school.
Throughout this novel, Portes shows how the popular kids are able show their power by labelling other kids at school, not by what they know, but by how they feel about them. This labelling tends to set a course for how their classmates get through their high school years, sometimes making it easier and sometimes more challenging.
When we talk about cliques at school, not only do they typically not readily accept new members, but some cliques if powerful enough can set the tone for how things will go within the social structure at school. Because of perceived power they have, cliques will sometimes bully teens who are inside their group or outside of their social circle.
How do cliques bully?
What happens when you get a group of friends together? They feel a bond and sometimes feel more confidence in the group and in themselves. When their group mentality kicks in, it can create a unified front and they can take on the world. What happens when this front starts being mean to others? Or mean to each other? It could turn into bullying.
Bullying a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort.
Many teenagers like spreading rumors about other teenagers. One, because it is fun to do, and there is some power found in holding what you think is juicy information and sharing it with others. After hurting someone else's feelings, they tend not to own up to it by saying that they are just teasing or just kidding. If this behavior is intentional and repeated, this is also considered to be a form of bullying.
A real life example
I recently read a story online about McKenna Brown, a teenage girl, who committed suicide from being targeted by three of her teammates. She was being cyber bullied by them because she was talking to and being flirted with by one of their ex boyfriends. After numerous abusive and harassing text messages and emails, they convinced others to cut ties with her as a friend. This left her alone to deal with all of the hate she was feeling. In her suicide note, she said she lacked "a sense of belongingness."
After her death, several people came forward with stories and evidence of bullying, but it appears that the mistreatment didn't violate the law. So criminally there will be no accountability, but the three players involved have been suspended from the hockey league in which they all played in.
Until the gossip is about us, we may not understand how hurtful gossip can be.
Queen Bees Wannabees - A resource about girls and cliques
Looking for a great resource to help understand girls and cliques? In Rosalind Wiseman's book, Queen Bees Wannabees, she talks about how to crack the girl code and understand the powerful role cliques play in shaping every aspect of adolescent girls lives. Wiseman has created a great and relatable resource for parents to help their teenage daughter navigate tough times with growing up.
Here are a couple of interesting facts presented in her book.
"Around five years of age, children start to use "just joking" as a way to tear someone down and then deny they did anything wrong."
It is amazing how early in life these habits are learned. And, they are learning them from the older siblings or adults in their lives. It would be great if the habits we were teaching our kids would be to be kind rather than making "just joking" an okay phrase to use.
"If you are a mom reading this book,...your experiences as a girl are both your greatest gift and your biggest liability...a gift because it will enable you to empathize. They're a liability if your past makes you so anxious or reactionary that you can't separate your experiences from hers."
We want to help our teens and sometimes our experiences can get in the way of being objective. Try to keep that in mind when listening to and coaching your teen. If we make it about ourselves in the conversation, we may not be helping our teen with his or her issue.
These kinds of things can happen with teenage boys too, just with a little different dynamic. Wiseman has also has a version about teenage boys called Mastermines and Wingmen. If you want to learn more about Rosalind Wiseman and her books, here's a link to her website Rosalind Wiseman.
Interesting fact - This book inspired the movie Mean Girls, which according to Wikipedia, was a 2004 teen comedy film about a naïve teenage girl navigating her way through the social hierarchy of a modern American high school after having been homeschooled by her parents for years.
Bullying is the teen issue in Shawn's Way
Looking for another good way to talk about the topic of bullying with your teens or young adults? How about having them read Shawn's Way. It is a coming of age novel about how a high school freshman becomes the target of a bully and navigates the stress and pressure that comes with it. It is the second book in The Way Series, which focuses on the challenges teens face. Here is a link for more information about Shawn's Way and The Way Series.