Wednesday Bound: Odd Girl Out ~ The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls

19 Jun


Rachel Simmons originally published the best selling book Odd Girl Out, in 2003. In 2011, she released a revised and updated book to include information about cyberbullying, and assisting girls in handling the dangers of life online.

When the previous version was initially published, it became and instant bestseller and enkindled a discussion of which was hardly spoken.  Girls engage in bullying.  What was once thought to be a largely male problem, was now spoken of in terms of the hidden culture of dirty looks, cruel notes, and exclusive cliques that have long existed.  With the element of cyberspace, this bullying has become even more pervasive.

Ms. Simmons, an educator and bullying expert, does more than give girls and their parents and educators tools for dealing with the social intricacies of face-to-face and online communication. The most recent research is used to give parents and classroom teachers techniques for approaching this very intractable social issue.It is interesting that for so very many years, the bullying occurring between girls was not labeled as such.

Girls don’t physically engage in fighting (although, on a rare occasion I have seen a few and it IS quite strange and disturbing!). But as Ms. Simmons points out, fighting with friendships is equally if not at times more painful.  And, the internet has made this a lot easier and a lot more dangerous.

Phoebe Prince 2
Although it is not mentioned in the book, the female bullying story that hit me the hardest was of the Irish girl who hung herself because of the bullying she encountered during a “year’s stay to learn about the United States.” Phoebe Prince had faced relentless bullying on Facebook and at Massachusett’s South Hadley High School in the year before her death.

The actual day of her suicide, January 14, 2010, the bullying was particularly vicious.  According to legal records, Phoebe was marauded in the school library.  This was witnessed by a teacher and other students but these “bystanders” failed to report the incident to administrators.

The harrassment continued as she attended school that day, and she even suffered bullying on the way home. Later that day in her home, she was found having hanged herself in her bedroom.

In summary, Rachel Simmons’ work on the subject of the silent world of female bullying is very important.  She has been criticized for applying too narrow approach in interviewing girls.  But my thoughts are works of substance on this very important social issue are essential. I highly recommend this book for mothers of girls.
All the best on your parenting path,
Cate Pane

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