13 October 2010

Getting Kicked Out of the Igloo

Girls are getting meaner, younger, according to The New York Times. It's probably the fault of Hanna Montana. Or the mother. It's almost definitely a class thing. And certainly a cleanliness thing (kids totally notice when you're too poor to have your private school outfit laundered daily).   

But of course this shocking trend is also based on about four case studies.  Anyone who actually experienced childhood knows that no matter what the child psychologists say, bullying amongst girls did not begin after the 5th grade in some bygone era. It begins, and has always begun, pretty much as soon as kids start interacting with each other.  

At this point I've come to accept the very particular case of Times "trend" stories, if only because they seem to be written in some sort of vacuum void of relevant cultural references and general life experiences and therefore are always kind of amusing.  But let's assume for a moment that there is something real happening here. That somehow bullying is beginning earlier. What should we do?  Having gotten too caught up in anecdotes about Strawberry Shortcake t-shirts and vague statements from Arne Duncan, the Times seems to have forgotten to offer up a larger point.

Basically the only piece of cautionary advice the article gives is that singing along to Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Jay-Z ("Single Ladies" is called out by name...they're talking about you Arianna) at age 2 will only lead to cellphone requests and Lady Gaga at age 8.  It also makes sure to remind that none of the cool kids actually like The Jonas Brothers or Miley Cyrus. And just in case you were wondering, parents are usually powerless to regulate. 

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