Cyber-bullying and reality TV turning schoolgirls into 'Barbie Bitches'

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Wellington, May 25 : Cyber-bullying and reality television are turning girls into "Barbie Bitches", which in turn is leading to a sharp rise in school violence amongst them, according to experts.

Even school principals have expressed that in recent years, girls' violence - physical and emotional - has increased far more than that of boys. The statement is backed by Education Ministry figures indicating a 41 per cent increase in girls being stood down, suspended or kicked out of school for assaults between 2002 and 2006. However, this girl-violence has its own new way of catering to its victim, as experts say, that this new gang-like mentality among schoolgirls is on a rise, in which a popular "queen bee" uses friends to bully or hurt others to reinforce her power.

Peter Gall, Secondary Principals' Association president, said that the schools were a witness to not only a blatant physical violence by girls, but also a big increase in cyber-bullying, wherein they send nasty text messages and e-mails, or putting humiliating images or words on the Internet.

Another factor that triggers such behaviour amongst girls are reality TV shows based on "shaming and bullying," pushing girls in particular to respond aggressively to threats or playground relationship problems.

"They prioritise all the sorts of behaviours we are desperately trying to prevent," the NZPA quoted Gall, as saying.

Also, violence and bullying may result in long term psychological effects on the victims, that in turn may lead to poor educational achievement, self-harm and inter-generational violence.

Education Minister Chris Carter is all set to announce plans to curb bullying and ameliorate pupil safety. Also, they are listed for being part of an increase in the Education Review Office's scrutiny of schools.

According to social anthropologist Donna Swift, who runs a girls' violence intervention programme, teenage girls often used "covert" violence and aggression, such as calling others "sluts" and "hos" in group text messages sent to hundreds of others. "It's going after a girl's reputation."

Particularly, it's the "Barbie Bitches" syndrome that has elevated this girl-violence, while they worked towards balancing desires to be attractive with being tough and mean.

Also, girls are quite unlike the boys as they have not learnt to "fight fair", thus their aggression could boil over into physical violence or bullying tactics.

ANI

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