Surviving girlhood: preventing teenage girl bullying

Surviving Girlhood:  Building positive Relationships, Attitudes and Self-Esteem to Prevent Teenage Girl Bullying


In my role as an educational psychologist I am often asked by parents as well as educators about the effects of bullying and strategies to prevent it in Hong Kong schools. Children with special needs such as dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and other developmental difficulties can be particularly at risk for bullying many times as victim but also sometimes as instigators. A good resource that addresses the issue of girl bullying in some depth is the above named book written by authors in the UK.

This book is a useful resource for preventing girl bullying, written by experienced anti-bullying officers.  They note that UK schools must have an antibullying policy by law, but these tend to have a reactive approach rather than tackling root causes.  The aim here is to prevent bullying happening in the first place through the promotion of positive relationships and improved self-esteem.

There are two sections, starting with background theory, followed by practical activities and accompanying photocopiable worksheets.  The theory part gives a context of psychological models e.g. social learning theory, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but in a highly accessible way that would not be off-putting for the less theoretical minded reader.  It includes sections on cyber-bullying and social media, which are very timely given recent concerns about increasing bullying in these areas.  The second part provides small group tasks, including activities to promote self-respect, manage friendships, and develop conflict resolution skills.

This book is primarily aimed at school staff, but would also be useful for youth workers and clinicians.  Some of the activities would be helpful for generally building girls’ self-esteem, even in the absence of bullying issues.  Overall, this provides a useful proactive toolkit for helping adolescent girls to develop self-respect and establish positive relationships with others.