Mean girls. You know who they are. They are the female bullies who systematically destroy other girls. To adults, parents and others, mean girls appear like sweet, smart, charming and charismatic girls - just the kind of girls you want your daughter to be friends with. But sadly, when adults aren't watching mean girls inflict serious emotional pain often using relational aggression as a weapon. And this kind of bullying can have lasting effects.
In fact, research shows that the effects of bullying, especially relational aggression used by mean girls, can linger long after the bullying has ended. And although responses to bullying can vary from person to person, the consequences of bullying are significant.
Bullying can lead to everything from depression and anxiety to low self-esteem and relationship issues. Some victims of bullying also have immune system issues and others may contemplate suicide. Victims of bullying can even experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
For instance, results from a Norwegian study showed that more than a third of students who are bullied also develop PTSD. The study also showed that although boys were more likely to be bullied, girls were more likely to develop PTSD.
In addition to PTSD, some victims even struggle with eating disorders as a result of bullying. In fact, in one study researchers spoke with 16- to 25-year-olds with anorexia, bulimia or overeating issues and found that 91 percent said they had been bullied. Nearly 50 percent of them felt that bullying had contributed to their eating disorder.
Because the effects of bullying can result in debilitating issues like PTSD and eating disorders, it is important for parents to recognize the signs of bullying and intervene quickly in order to help girls overcome bullying by mean girls. Doing so is critical for the victim's health and wellbeing.Follow @SherriMGordon
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