Ask Rene:
What To Do About Mean Girls?

Hi Rene,

My 13-year-old daughter is being bullied at school by a girl in her class – and I don’t know what to do. She often comes home crying and on a couple of occasions has actually been physically attacked by this girl.

I’ve complained to the school but they’re just not taking action and seem oblivious to the problem. I want to speak to the girl’s parents – but my daughter is begging me not too as she says it’ll just make things worse.

I’m beside myself with worry from all the horror stories I hear in the news but don’t want to add to my daughter’s problems… what do you think I should do?


Susan, North Carolina

Hi Susan:

Wow, I feel your pain as my Casey is 13 and we know how difficult it is navigating the choppy waters of adolescence. I am a big believer in equipping our kids with the tools they need for the rest of their lives and part of that is learning how to deal with difficult people. But when physical violence, or the threat of it exists, it’s time to take a quantum leap forward.



I think the solution is two-fold. First, you must get the attention of the school officials. If they are not taking you seriously, you have to go to the superintendent of schools because they understand the liability involved. Once you have them focused, you can work with them to formulate a plan to keep this girl from bothering your daughter, whether they physically separate the girls or keep a discreet eye out for your daughter.

Read more: Our Story Begins: When Bullying Hits Home



The second part is that you are going to have to have a talk with your daughter about what she can handle herself and when it’s time to get adults involved. I think it’s admirable that she wanted to deal with this on her own or perhaps she was afraid of being branded a snitch. Whatever the reason, explain that this is one of those instances where adults have to be involved. You can tell her, without going into great detail, some of the items in the news where children kept quiet when they should have spoken up, sometimes with dire consequences.

Read more: The GEM Debate: Bullying: Should You Make Your Kid The Target?


Chalk drawing - Caution sign and text

Unless you are good friends with the other girl’s parents, I’m not sure I would say anything to them. It’s hard to imagine them being receptive to your overture and I think their reaction could be downright hostile, especially if they cannot possibly see their angel as being a bully. I think it’s also imperative the school be made aware of what is happening on their grounds.

Read more: The GEM Debate: Can A Bully Ever Really Change?
**************************************************************************************************************Lastly, you need to make sure your daughter knows she is not the first person to have to deal with this and she won’t be the last. In other words, she is not alone and you are definitely in her corner.

Best of luck to you!

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(Editor’s note: This piece first ran 6/25/2010)