Surprising Ways Girls Bully Differently

Learn about the Unusual Ways Girls Bully

Girls Bullying Another Teen in School
Surprising Ways Girls Bully. Getty

Someone once said that passive aggression is like a dog that licks you and whizzes on you at the same time. The image is a great way to describe how most girls bully. While we often think of bullying as physical harm such as fighting or destroying property, many girls will bully in ways that are much more subtle or passive. This type of bullying is much less easily identified and is often masked by surface level positive behavior.

In contrast, a large majority of boy bullies will inflict physical harm, but this is not always the case. Despite the fact that girls tend to use a more covert type of bullying, it can still be as dangerous and psychologically damaging as more physical forms of bullying.

Girl bullying can range from mild acts of passive aggression to full on covert battles. Girls will choose a victim and identify what is most important to that child. They will then focus on ways to damage, sabotage, or disrupt what is important to the child. The goal of this activity is to gain power over the victim through isolation, humiliation, and control of her interactions with others. This is often accomplished by encouraging other children not to be friends with the child, spreading rumors, cyber-bullying, and bullying by text. Some girls will even encourage other children to join in with the bullying. Girl bullies can wield this type of power because they can be quite charming and popular on the surface.

Others are naturally attracted to that charisma and want to be friends. The girl bullies then manipulate people in those relationships. The bully's accomplices are sometimes unaware of what they are being drawn into until they are socially entrapped. They carry out the bully's instructions and mimic her behaviors because they do not want to become victims themselves.

Typical Girl Bully Tactics:

  • Becoming friends with the intended victim to gain access to information about them that can later be used to hurt them.
  • Encouraging others to not be friends with the victim.
  • Encouraging others to bully the victim by calling her names or taking part in elaborate schemes that will result in the child being publicly humiliated or punished.
  • Making others ignore the child.
  • Spreading rumors.
  • Framing the child as in stealing an item and planting it in the child's backpack or desk and then arranging for the item to be discovered by the teacher.
  • Breaking up any friendships the child victim attempts to form.
  • Gossiping about the child or the child's friends or family.
  • Planning and carrying out elaborate schemes to humiliate and isolate victims (as in the movie Mean Girls).
Emerging bullying behaviors can be seen in children as early as in preschool. Many children outgrow this behavior through normal socialization and correction by adults. Some, however, simply learn ways to continue the behaviors without being detected.
There are several ways parents and teachers can detect signs of bullying in girls. First, they should be aware of any child who seems isolated from activities on the playground. Being aware of the nonverbal behaviors between girls in the classroom such as gesturing, whispering, rolling eyes, staring, ignoring, and passing notes can help parents and teachers detect when bully activities are going on. Make the effort to be aware of activities of cliques and groups of students who tend to exclude and isolate others. Watching the activities of groups of girls can help adults identify potential victims and offer assistance when needed. Take this quiz to help determine if your child is a bully. Most importantly, do not be hesitant to intervene if your child is bullying others or if your child is being bullied. Bullying has harmful and possibly lifelong negative consequences for both the victim and the bully if left unaddressed. Not sure where to turn for help? Start by talking with your child's counselor at school. Together, you can develop an intervention plan to address the problem.

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