Helping Middle School Girls Be a Friend FirstOctober 12, 2014
By Krista Park, Communications & PR Director
When girls are mean, you often don’t see anything at all. But girls can feel it. The cliques. The eye rolling. The taunting. The rumors. It may not look like it, but it is bullying. Right now, when girls are bullied, almost no one intervenes. Girl Scouts – NC Coastal Pines has committed to being part of the change.
Nationally, one-third of girls ages 12–18 say that they have been bullied at school. And, according to the National Education Association, more than 160,000 students miss school each day because they are fearful of being targeted by bullies.
Girl Scouts, with 100 years of experience fostering girls’ healthy relationships and leadership skills, recognizes the need for an innovative bullying-prevention initiative for middle school girls. Middle school is a time when girls navigate new relationships and explore their emerging identities and independence. It’s also when bully behavior peaks.
Our BFF program, which stands for Be a Friend First—a name that girls selected—was developed by Girl Scouts to address behaviors specific to girls, plus the issues that lead to bullying in the first place. It gives girls the relational and leadership skills to short-circuit the bullying behavior when it happens, or prevent it from happening in the first place.
BFF—which can easily be integrated into existing health or character education classes and after-school programs —uses activities such as role playing, creative writing, and discussion exercises, where girls explore thorny issues like peer pressure, stereotyping, gossip, and cliques. With adult guidance, girls also talk about core friendship values such as honesty, loyalty, integrity, kindness, and compassion, and learn how to stay true to these values in their own lives. They learn to develop self-confidence and stand up for what they believe—as well as the skills to intervene if they witness cruel or hurtful behavior among their peers.
BFF is designed to work with the aMAZE! Journey, Girl Scouts’ leadership curriculum for middle school girls. As part of BFF, girls can also create and lead projects in their schools and communities to tackle bullying issues. BFF gives girls the opportunity to take charge of their world to implement change, and encourage their peers to do the same.
When girls feel safe, secure, and valued, they can focus on learning and set themselves up for academic success. Girls who learn to respect one another and become skilled at honest communication are more likely to become healthy, well-adjusted adults.
This October, join Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines in making a commitment as a community to encourage healthy relationships among our girls. Their future depends upon it.