Category Archives: bullying

Dear Society: Domestic Violence is Not Okay!

By Raven Heroux, Editorial Intern

Photo by Molly Hartigan, 21
Massachusetts

Did you watch the 54th Grammys this year? Perfect timing—February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. A mere three years ago, R&B artist Chris Brown, 19 at the time, got angry and beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna so badly she had to be hospitalized. At the time, a disturbing number of people, not only men, but also women and many teen girls, blamed Rihanna for the attack. WHAT?! Since when is this physical abuse okay?

Sadly, we, as a society, haven’t seemed to learned much in three years. Chris Brown was invited to perform again at the Grammys this year, as if he were a stellar role model. Clearly, not everyone believes Chris Brown was in the wrong. Take a look at this  sampling of tweets we found on BuzzFeed:

“I don’t know why Rihanna complained. Chris Brown could beat me anytime he wanted to.”

“I wish Chris Brown would punch me.”

“Dude, Chris Brown can punch me in the face as much as he wants to, just as long as he kisses it.J”

These nonchalant tweets worry us. Domestic violence is a serious issue. As activists committed to empowering girls, we hope to help society realize these insensitive tweets are not acceptable. And we want girls to know that even if you aren’t in a  dating relationship now, you need to know the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Here are some ways you can help:

1. Learn more about dating violence, its symptoms, and how common it is. According to Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline, “Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence—almost triple the national average.” Don’t know anyone who’s been a victim of dating violence? That’s because only 33 percent of teens in a violent relationship will ever tell someone about the abuse. Many girls find it easier to try to hide their bruises than to tell someone what’s happened or report the incident to the police because they are afraid they will be blamed. So if you suspect someone you know is in an abusive relationship, as a first step, you can help by creating a supportive listening environment.

2.  Watch for the warning signs of physical and sexual  abuse. According to HelpGuide some warning signs of physical and sexual abuse are: (1) Afraid or anxious to please his/her partner, (2) Frequent injuries caused by “accidents,” (3) Restricted from seeing family and friends, (4) Dresses in clothes designed to hide bruises or scars, such as long sleeves in summer or sunglasses indoors, and (5) Low self-esteem, even if s/he used to be confident.

3. Be aware that physical and sexual abuse aren’t the only types of domestic violence; verbal abuse hits just as hard. According to author Patricia Evans, the emotional pain of being put down constantly by a partner can lead to serious issues, including eating disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. Because emotional pain cannot be seen with the eye, it is harder to pick up on.

4. Show your support for dating violence victims. If you are worried about a friend and his or her relationship, try to talk with her in an open, nonjudgmental manner.  Help her confide in a trusted adult.  Don’t ignore symptoms when you see them—rather than simply watching the Grammys and ignoring Chris Brown’s past, write a letter to The Recording Academy protesting their decision to allow him to perform.

5. Educate the public. Take Back the Night, is an organization founded in 1975 to make the world a safer place for women of all ages. It aims to spread awareness about violence against women. Women should be able to walk alone, in daylight or after dark, and know that they are safe. Find a Take Back the Night event in your area and join the cause!

Society may think it’s all right to glorify and excuse Chris Brown’s abusive history, but as young women, we cannot allow this behavior to continue. Change starts with you, so make a difference in your own life and the lives of others! If you or someone you know is a victim of dating violence, don’t remain quiet! Speak out—ask someone for help, or talk to your friend or loved one who is experiencing this type of behavior and help them find the resources they need to stay safe.

KIND Campaign Tries to Put Girl-on-Girl Crime to an End

By Carolyn Hardy, Editorial Intern

Most girls can relate to some experience with girl fighting—physical, verbal, or emotional.  Sometimes it’s “out there” and sometimes it’s in secret. Two college-aged women, Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson, recently decided to take a stand against girl-on-girl bullying and start encouraging kindness. They started the KIND Campaign in 2009; it has grown into a full documentary and an international message to girls to STOP the competition, STOP the cattiness, STOP the hate, and BE KIND.

Kindcampaign.com has loads of ways for you to get involved and take part in the campaign!

  • Kind Cards: Post positive messages to the girls in your life to let them know how important and how loved they are.
  • Kind Magazine: Read more true-life stories from girls and their experiences with girl crime and finding the kind in their lives.
  • Kind Country: See where Lauren, Molly, and KIND have been on their tour and check to see if there’s a KIND club near you. If there’s not, find out how to start one!
  • Kind Girls: Show your support for the KIND campaign. Type in your name and upload your photo to the mural of dozens of other girls who support KIND.
  • In the Media: Check out interviews with Lauren and Molly and see how far KIND has reached among the media.
  • Library: Look over the KIND-recommended booklist for girls in middle and high school—They accurately portray “girl world” and the prevalence of girl crime.
  • T.A.P.: Here is where you can do the most to support the KIND campaign.
    • T is for Truth: Share your experiences and how you’ve been affected by girl bullying to help expose the truth of what happens in the girl world.
    • A is for Apology: Write an apology to someone you’ve harmed through girl-on-girl crime. You’re encouraged to share your apology with the person to whom you’re writing.
    • P is for Pledge: Take the KIND pledge to unite in kindness in an effort to end female bullying.

Click here to see if a KIND club is hosting a screening of the documentary near you.

For more information about girl-on-girl violence, check out:

Deborah Prothrow-Stith and Howard R. Spivak, Sugar and Spice and No Longer Nice: How We Can Stop Girls’ Violence (2005)

Lyn Mikel Brown, Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection among Girls (2003)

Note that Lyn Mikel Brown will be offering the Jean Baker Miller Memorial Lecture at Wellesley College on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 7 pm.  The title is “Fighting Like a Girl: How Girls Can and Do Make a Difference.”  The lecture is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Visit: http://www.jbmti.org/.

Q&A: Amber Riley Hates a Bully

Originally published by iheartdaily.com 7-29-11
Reposted with permission from Melissa Walker and Annie Ichikawa

Amber Mean Stinks Part of the reason why we love Glee is because it’s about the underdogs — the ones who are bullied, but still prevail! So, it makes perfect sense that Glee star Amber Riley has partnered with Secret and PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center for the Mean Stinks campaign.

We sat down with Amber to talk about the campaign, bullying and, of course, that show she’s on:

I Heart Daily: What made you want to join the Mean Stinks Campaign?
Amber Riley: I want to help girls deal with bullying and take a stand against it. I get so many letters from girls and I want to inform them and give them a resource that helps deal with bullying and other tough issues.

IHD: Have you ever been bullied?
AR: I have been made fun of and teased, you know, like every other person. I did have a friend in high school who was a bully and I separated myself from her because I didn’t want to be associated with that. Actually my senior year, she wrote me a letter saying she knew she was wrong. She kind of just like apologized because she did miss our friendship and we had two totally different high school experiences — she missed out because she was busy being mean.

Read the full I Heart Daily interview here.

Delete Digital Drama

By Rebecca Klein,
Editorial Assistant Intern

Photo by Anh Ðào Kolbe for Teen Voices

On July 5, Seventeen magazine, ABC Family, Verizon Wireless, and teen fashion retailer Charlotte Russe launched a campaign to increase youth awareness about online bullying. They are reaching out to teens and parents in several ways:

  • A new ABC Family Original movie, “Cyberbully,” which first aired on July 17.
  • A special August issue of Seventeen, in which ABC Family stars share their experiences with bullying.
  • The Rally to Delete Digital Drama on July 14 at the Americana at Brand in Glendale, CA. The event included appearances by Shay Mitchell (“Pretty Little Liars”), Daren Kagasoff (“The Secret Life of the Amerian Teenager”), Emily Osment (“Cyberbully”), and other ABC Family actors.
  • The Charlotte Russe special-edition [delete] t-shirt.
  • A Verizon text fundraiser; customers can pledge support by texting “DELETE” to 3332.
  • New Seventeen and ABC Family web pages devoted to the campaign, which include a Delete Digital Drama badge you can add to your Facebook page.

Taking Action for the Ladies
The Delete Digital Drama campaign is reaching teens through all the right channels, and it’s especially relevant to teenage girls. According to the Washington Post (September 1, 2011), adolescent girls are far more likely to engage in cyberbullying than boys. For this reason, it’s especially important that girl-oriented media like Seventeen Magazine, and female-clothing stores like Charlotte Russe, take action on this issue. These outlets have the potential to reach bullies and victims alike, helping everyone to understand and take action against cyberbullying.  We applaud all of the companies involved for putting together a smart campaign.

But Isn’t It Ironic?
While outlets like Seventeen are working to prevent cyberbullying, you have to wonder how much these same companies unintentionally contribute to girl-on-girl hostility, jealousy, and low self-esteem. With articles like “The Bitchy Girl Moves That Guys Hate,” and an excessive focus on beauty, fashion, and dating, Seventeen and other mainstream mags promote a materialistic, boy-obsessed, looks-before-brains ideal. That’s not to say that Seventeen doesn’t also promote some very positive values, like healthy living and education. Some Seventeen articles are great! But don’t you think girls would learn to be more accepting of themselves and others if the mainstream media promoted a broader image of what’s normal?

Teen Voices commends the Delete Digital Drama campaign in their efforts to heighten awareness about cyberbullying – and we certainly hope they succeed. We also wonder just how far these types of campaigns can go, when the root causes of cyberbullying may be in part be encouraged by the very companies working to prevent it.

Hmm. What do you think? Do you think mainstream media outlets contribute culture of bullying by focusing on beauty and competitiveness? What is their responsibility to help girls accept themselves and treat others with respect?