Relational Aggression, a form of covert bullying uses relationships to gain some sort of leverage in inflicting harm onto others. Very common among girls, it involves social and emotional bullying with certain types of behaviors. Some of these are excluding, rolling of the eyes, whispering, giggling, speaking about others in the third person when they're present, spreading rumors and making up lies about someone to purposely make that person look bad. The bully works to persuade a person not to be friends with another, mostly from feelings of resentment or jealousy, or simply to make alliances so others won't like a certain person. In most cases, bullying is a cover-up for feelings of insecurity, and the need to appear more powerful than he/she really is.
Sound familiar? A sad reality, but unfortunately, we see this happening at earlier ages now. I know firsthand from working with hundreds of girls how debilitating it is for the victims of bullies. The social pressure that girls go through is a social/emotional roller coaster. There's no easy way of explaining the "whys" and the "how comes" that girls do downright mean things to each other. For years, I did research on why the good, kind girls joined in with the other groups of girls who did the bullying, even though they knew that they shouldn't. It became apparent after a while when I observed myself the extreme social pressures the girls go through. The good kids join in with the bully and her group out of fear of being excluded. They want to feel accepted, and if they don't go along with the ringleader and her group, she will be isolated.
When you see girls in groups, you notice the roles or positions they play, like in a hierarchy...there's the "Ringleader" (Queen Bee), then the "sidekick" (the one who feels popular because she's hanging with the Queen Bee). Then of course, you have the few girls who are the "bystanders" (the ones who are totally weak and conflicted as to where they belong). The "floater" girl is so beyond confused. She floats from one clique to another. I'm sure you all can spot that one in a bunch. She has friends in different groups and can't decide where the heck she belongs, so in essence, she really has little self worth and self esteem. Then there's the "target" girl. The one who is the victim, and usually set up by another to be excluded. This is the one who feels paralyzed. There are other roles in the group too, but these are the main ones.
I'm sure if you have daughters, or friends of your daughters who experience social bullying, you'll know how heartbreaking it is. The age old concept of being role models for our daughters still holds true. We first have to educate ourselves as to what's going on in our daughter's girl world before we can help them. Listen, learn, and let her be heard. Just nurture her confidence and BE THERE.
I love this quote I read somewhere. It's a good one to read to your daughters...."I don't have time to hate people who hate me because I'm too busy loving people who love me."