Mean Girls?

Brad M. Griffin | Apr 8, 2010

An op-ed piece in the NY Times last week from sociologist Michael Males has caught some attention and kick-back related to this question: Are teen girls today more or less mean than in the past?

This is an ongoing line from Males and others, that girls are doing great. Now he says the panic over mean girls is a hoax.

A few years ago we published an article on youth violence that reported a rise in arrests of girls. Weve also shared some trends in girl issues that include a rise in physical aggression and other violence. So on some level, this is a case of stats facing off against stats. And as we all know, statistics can tell multiple stories (which is why we should handle them very carefully, we say while pointing a reminding finger at ourselves at FYI).

Regardless of statistics, girl-bullying clearly exists in our school campuses and sometimes our church campuses. One University of Alabama study found that mean girls (defined by physical and relational aggression) are often seen as the most popular students in early adolescence. They call this the mean girl effect. Perhaps a more important question, then, is how are we responding to the meanness that exists? What have you found effective in handling mean girl issues, whether manifest in violence, relational aggression, social media bullying, or simple (but no less painful) exclusion among girl groups within your ministry?

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, writer, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over a dozen books, including 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and Can I Ask That? Brad and his family live in Southern California, where he serves as Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Mountainside Communion.


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