- Last Updated: 10:25 AM, November 30, 2010
- Posted: 11:32 PM, November 29, 2010
When Bronx mother of two Sirin Samman walked into her daughters’ room recently during a “time-out,” she was shocked by a “to-do” list her 8-year-old had written. Her older daughter, Maia, was so upset about being locked in with her 6-year-old sister, Nayla, that she wrote the following: 1. Clean room (my instructions), 2. Make Nayla miserable, 3. Be mean to Nayla, 4. Pick on Nayla, 5. Terrorize Nayla a bit.
Samman was amazed that her “incredibly sensitive and compassionate kid” could be so nasty. It’s a feeling many parents have experienced lately as the culture of “mean girls” becomes an increasing nationwide problem.
“Tiny Monsters,” a new animated series now in development for Fox, aims to reflect this growing trend in schoolyard culture. “At the age of 12, [girls reach] the apex of their power,” says the show’s executive producer Ali Rushfield who, along with high school pal Jack Black, sold the show as a “ ‘South Park’ for 12-year-old girls.” Says Rushfield: “That’s as powerful as you get until you potentially become like Hillary Clinton.”
With the government holding its first ever bullying summit this past August in Washington, DC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics Council revealing that kid cruelty online is “happening more than people want to admit,” the disturbing statistics are also on the rise. In 2007, 32 percent of students between 12 and 18 said they were bullied — up from 28 percent in 2005, according to the Department of Education.
And girls are particularly bad, say experts. Theories abound as to what’s causing the cattiness, from early onset puberty to anonymous Internet cruelty to societal narcissism to the witty “mean” banter on Disney shows (note the constant refrain of “Whatever” on “Hannah Montana” or “Shut it!” on “Sonny with a Chance”). But one thing is for sure: It’s happening younger and more viciously — and many parents are left shellshocked by the schoolyard tales.
“When I gave birth to a little girl, I knew mean girls would eventually be our cross to bear,” says Jeanne Sager, who lives in the Catskills and is a writer for The Stir, a blog on the CafeMom site. “Little did I know it would start in preschool. My daughter and her friend would both come home relating that there was a group of girls who would not allow the two of them to play with them. That group of girls referred to themselves as ‘The A Girls.’ At 4!”