In response to a recent altercation involving a dozen Armstrong Middle School girls, the administration decided to host an educational assembly on female bullying.
Mean Girls Aren’t Cool is a program that was started by Kelsey Ann Jackson when she was a freshman at Brookhaven High School.
“This is one of the things we are doing to try to prevent [bullying],” AMS Principal Libby Mosley said. “We want to show students that they do have different options, and that’s what we are trying to promote.”
The victim of female bullying, Jackson felt the devastating affects her tormentors had on her self-esteem, but instead of allowing them control over he life, she decided to do something about it.
The now college freshman has traveled around the country speaking to more than 55,000 middle school and high school girls about bullying awareness and prevention.
“The program’s focus is to increase awareness of bullying among girls and to educate about how, when and why it occurs; identifying bullying behaviors; empowering the victims; and getting school officials and parents involved to help prevent the problem,” Jackson said.
Jackson began her program by telling her personal account of how bullying affected her adolescence, and she shared a startling statistic with the girls: Every seven minutes, a female is bullied.
The program then included an educational video where actors are put into several bullying situations. A group of students in the video then explained the best ways to deal with each situations presented.
Jackson and the video identify that in most cases, female bullies are often the “pretty” and “popular” girls of the school — called queen bees — who usually target girls who are friends, outsiders or are somehow different from themselves.
Queen bees often use gossip and intimidation when they bully as a way to belittle and break down their victims.
Jackson explained that bullying often results in the victim’s decrease in self-esteem, sadness and depression, poor body image and eating disorders, headaches, stomachaches, trouble sleeping, skipping school, bad grades and even thoughts or acts of suicide.
Jackson got candid with the students when she told a story of a girl she went to school with who attempted suicide due to extensive bullying. She explained that though the girl was unsuccessful in her attempt, she suffered irreparable brain damage and will be a “vegetable for the rest of her life,” Jackson said.
Then she asked the girls a very tough question: “How would you feel if the girl you bullied one day didn’t show up to school the next because she had killed herself? You wouldn’t feel so ‘cool’ then, would you?”
Jackson encouraged the girls that if they ever feel bullied or see someone being bullied to tell a trusted adult. She urged the girls to continue to tell a trusted adult until the bullies stop and she encouraged by-standers to stand up for those being bullied as many bullies will back down when confronted.
“Put yourself in the victim’s shoes,” Jackson said. “You don’t know how far you’re pushing someone.”
“We realize, especially with this age group, that students need to learn different options than to use physical violence,” Mosley said. “I think the girls got a lot out of the program.”
To learn more about Jackson’s program or bullying, visit http://www.meangirlsnotcool.com .