Friday, April 2, 2010

You keep me young, god bless

Continuing on with the April Blogging Challenge... Numero dos:

I just read “The Myth of Mean Girls” and frankly, it pissed me off. The authors state that the recent suicide of a 15-year-old Massachusetts high school girl is being used to propagate the idea that teen violence, specifically among girls, is out of control. They give a bunch of statistics showing that crimes committed by teen girls (murder, weapon possession, assaults, robbery, etc.) are actually at their lowest in years, thus debunking the ‘mean girls’ myth.

There’s only one problem with their logic- that the suicide of the young girl in question was prompted mostly by non-criminal harassment, and especially by verbal taunting. No one is claiming that the female bullies tried to attack her with a weapon or rob her house. They called her the “Irish slut” because she dated a cool senior guy, and their cruel text messages sent her into a state of self-doubt and perhaps even self-hatred. By all reasonable logic, she didn’t commit suicide because she was afraid for her life- she did so because they made her feel that her life was not worth living.

Some adages fade away as modern culture deviates so greatly from the past. Others don’t. The idea of “sticks and stones” is alive and well. This case isn’t about violence (and it must be mentioned that the movie “Mean Girls” wasn’t either. It was about high school girls spreading heinous, sometimes untrue rumors about one another). It’s about the use of words, their impact, and the responsibility that people must take for their rhetoric.

If the authors want stats that may better relate to the prevalence of mean girls, here are some:
Surely, it's a good thing that teenage violent crime rates are down. And certainly not all kids are on Facebook to mess with one another, or sending taunting text messages. But the truth behind 'mean girls' AND mean boys is that there is skyrocketing usage of new media and technology among teens, lower parental understanding and monitoring of these new communication vehicles, and low reporting of cyberbullying by victims. Mean kids still exist, below the old-school parental radar.

I propose parents quit trying to be the cool mom. Be the uncool parents- my dad used to answer the phone and razz my friends for 3 minutes before letting me talk to them. As a result, I didn't even want the cool kids calling me. I'm better for it.


Emily Elizabeth said...

Love this, Gina. My recent obsession with teens and social media/cell phone use has brought up some really interesting thoughts and questions in my mind (not to mention the fact that I've decided that my kids won't have cell phones until they go to college). I wish I lived closer to you so we could meet weekly and discuss our obsessions with coffee, social media, communication, marketing, cheez-its and reality tv.

Joel said...

I hate sounding cliche but it really is about the parents and their involvement in their children's lives. I think for the most part if a parent actually engages their teen as a person while still maintaining authority, the teen will be much more able to handle their adolescence. I wouldn't be surprised if these "mean girls" have shallow, impersonal relationships with their parents that lead them to take out their frustration and sadness on others.

How's that for commenting?

Gina Marie said...

Emily, I adore you... seriously, we must have been separated at birth. Thanks for being on board with all my obsessions.

This Saturday is Jenna's birthday party at Kory's in Prior Lake... if you'll be in Mike's hood, you should give me a ring!

Joel, I agree with everything you wrote. You know how much I hate mean girls. Also, please at least acknowledge that the Poehler video and title was ALL for you. "If you're going to drink, I'd rather you do it in the house."

Emily Anne said...

Again, love the passion. I think the whole story is sad, and I truly wish all girls had a good group of girlfriends to back them up. No one should ever feel that alone at that age.

I'm REALLY starting to feel like I'm not at all going to be prepared to parent a child through something like that.

Teresa said...

I completely agree on the cell phone thing--I was at MOA today (CHAOS) and there were tweens running all over the place with cell phones. I wasn't allowed to have my own til I went off to school, so why do 10 year olds have them now?!

Just remembering the kind of shit I tried to get away with on my heavily parentally-controlled AOL account makes me shudder. I am watching my children like a hawk.

KC said...

I'm not sure about the parental supervision problem now that I'm a parent.

I do agree that it's all about the relationship. I think Joel hit it on the head when he said we should interact with kids as people, but still maintain authority.

Great post, Gina. You're really blowing us out of the water with the number of articles read.

Shannon Clattenburg said...

Well your post today really blew mine out of the water.. you brought up some great points!

I remember when I was younger, and my dad would do "spot checks" on my MSN chats. Literally pop around the corner, and make me scroll up a few comments to see the tone of the conversation.

I used to hate it. But, like you, I am so much better for it today.

Mary said...

does this make me a non- cool kid? or maybe even less cool since I loved that your dad would "razz" me one the phone! :)
ps- love all the posts but when I only get to internet every few weeks it is quite the commitment- and you know how I am with that.
love you!