one thing you learn pretty quickly when you start teaching high school kids is that they’re mean to each other. i didn’t have a lot of experience in high school with bullying or meanness or anything like that. i witnessed it, but it wasn’t really directed at me very often. i guess i’m kind of blessed in that way. and i thank god that i was in high school before the internet became so cruel. there were no cameras on our phones. all we had was instant messaging and simple blogs. i remember that causing a bit of drama, but not on any kind of level that it is today.
but now, i see and hear all sorts of stories from the students. the girls especially are so mean to each other. rumors being in a second and spread like wildfire before the day is out. an inappropriate picture circulates within minutes and hours. they’re also mean to each others’ faces. maybe i’m naive, but it seems like kids are more emboldened than they used to be. it’s not far off from the movie “mean girls”. truly, it’s a battlefield out there.
it is a part of growing up as a girl to experience mean girls. there’s not a ton that you can do to prevent it all from happening. i’m pretty sure that women have been tearing each other down for centuries. but there are a few things you can do to help students that you see are being attacked personally:
- keep the line of communication open (i.e. tell them and show them that you are there for them)
- speak to each of your students every day
- encourage them to be themselves
- remind them that high school is a phase and that there is a life past it
- keep documentation of incidents that you witness
- report the situation if you see it as a physical or emotional safety issue