Teenage girl sitting outside school, knees to chest looking sad and lonely

From Sharp Health News, a publication of Sharp HealthCare

Have you noticed your preteen or teenage daughter acting nervous, withdrawn or irritable since they returned to in-person classes at school? Bullying, or the fear of bullying, could be to blame.

While bullying isn’t a new problem, it appears to be escalating in our communities. Social media and other electronic forms of bullying bring it into the home, offering no refuge once the school day ends.

How girls bully one another
Boys tend to exhibit physical bullying while girls commonly use more covert or manipulative methods known as relational bullying. This type of bullying attempts to make others feel unaccepted by damaging a child’s rapport with her peers.

Common examples of relational bullying among girls include:

  • Spreading nasty rumors
  • Gossiping
  • Exposing confidential information
  • Social exclusion
  • Silent treatment
  • Verbal criticism

Girls who are bullied may experience social anxiety, loneliness, depression and diminished self-esteem, and may exhibit acting-out behaviors.

How parents can help
The best thing parents can do for a child experiencing bullying is to offer support, empathy and a listening ear.

Parents should:

  • Stress that bullying is wrong and that the bullying isn’t your child’s fault
  • Address the issue with your child’s school rather than taking matters into your own hands
  • Encourage your daughter to express her feelings in a healthy manner: Speak out against the bullying, stick up for herself, and share her concerns with a trusted adult so they can help put a stop to it

It is vital that bullying — why it’s done, what it looks like and how to stop it — needs to be addressed at home, in schools, and in the various clubs, teams and organizations where girls spend their time.