“Leah, I love your hair like that!”

“What do you think, Leah? Should I trade my snack with Chavi?”

“Do you want to come to my house after school, Leah?”

Even though Leah was the most popular, the others didn’t really like her. They were a bit scared of getting on her bad side. Everyone knew you had to be nice to Leah. If not, you might be left out of the next game.

Leah can be described as a class queen. Class queens are girls who are conceited, not nice, and rule everyone. They cut girls out of their inner circles and are always surrounded by girls fawning over them.

Bullying and Girls

From the teacher’s perspective, it is often difficult to detect a class queen. As girls get older, their peer interactions become less physical and more cerebral. Girls bond by sharing stories, hopes and dreams. Boys bond over shared interests. Since girls bond differently, their bullying is of a much different nature than that of boys. While teachers are always on the lookout for physical bullying, which is common among boys, they miss the verbal bullying which often occurs among girls. Another notable difference between boys and girls is that male bullies generally attack someone they don’t like, whereas female bullies (class queens) will choose someone they see as a rival. Unfortunately, whereas bullying by boys is often addressed and condemned, social bullying by girls is usually brushed off as cruel but normal.

Girls use relationships to bully. Relationships are the utmost importance to girls, and are the measure girls use to evaluate their worth. They will therefore form alliances with others to become more popular. Already by third grade, the esteem and friendship of peers is nearly as important to girls as their families’, and more important than their teachers’. If someone threatens a girl with removing her friendship, she uses the most powerful weapon. And thus female bullies use tactics such as alienation, ostracism, exclusion, and spreading rumors. By threatening to deny girls the friendship and approval of others, a bully can effectively control a group of friends.

Below is a list of some tactics that class queens employ to keep their status:

Playing jokes or tricks to embarrass and humiliate.

Deliberate exclusion of others for no reason.

Whispering in front of others with the intent to make them feel left out.

Making mean facial expressions, rolling eyes, and
dirty looks.

Name calling and spreading rumors.

Being friends one week and turning against her the
next week.

Encouraging others to ignore or pick on a specific child.

Inciting others to act violently or aggressively.

Effects on the Victims

Social bulling can leave serious scars. Loss of friendships and social status is emotionally damaging and isolation can be unbearable. This is especially true for girls. Many victims believe they are to blame for the bullying and deserve to be isolated. This can lead to a vicious cycle, as the victim becomes more isolated and socially inept, causing a further drop in self-esteem.

Social bullying can lead to clinical depression and anxiety. It can also affect academic performance, as girls who experience bullying will naturally be reluctant to go to school.

How Can Parents Help

For the class queen:

Get serious about consequences – Just because there are no physical wounds, this does not mean no real harm is done. Treat your daughter with respect, but let her know in no uncertain terms that bullying will not be tolerated.

Instill empathy – Ask your daughter to “walk in someone
else’s shoes” in order to feel how the other girl feels. Empathy is not an innate emotion, and it needs to be developed through
careful coaching.

Role-play – Your daughter might not be aware that she can act differently.  Act out different situations to give her an alternate course of action and help her see other people’s perspective.

For the victim:

Encourage outside friendships – Get your daughter involved in activities that expose her to different girls. Without the class queen making her feel unworthy, her self-esteem will soar when she realizes she can make new friends.

Home as a “put-down free zone”-Don’t allow people to put themselves down at home. This will make your home a place where positive self-esteem is developed and nurtured.

The scars and wounds of social bullying are not as obvious as those of physical bullying, but they can be just as painful and debilitating, and their effects are sometimes felt for much longer. Early and vigilant intervention, along with professional help when warranted, can heal those wounds quickly and effectively, and lead the “class queen” away from her destructive habits.

Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld, founder and director of the SOS program, is an educator and educational consultant with specialization as a keriah and reading coach. Serving the Jewish community for close to 30 years, she has experience providing evaluations, G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness.