The teen years are a time of uncertainty, a time when most people need every bit of encouragement they can get. So it is sad to read author Nikki Goldstein reporting in the Sydney Morning Herald on "the broad and insidious rise of "mean girl culture"".
Goldstein has a forum on her website where girls across Australia discuss and receive advice, and "the most pressing topic, every week, has been how to handle the bullying, bitchiness and isolation girls experience at school."
She refers to teen TV shows that seem to promote nastiness and put-downs among teen girls, and says: "Our culture has spawned a new version of womanhood that promotes a kind of sharp-tongued nastiness ...."
The SMH article offers few clues as to the reasons for this behaviour trend, but an earlier book about girls in the US, Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons, suggests that it is “a mean and merciless competition for relationships”, as girls seek popularity and membership in a popular clique, even if they have to destroy previous friendships to do it.
It seems to be one more evidence of a society that too often cares more for popularity and image than for friendship and lasting values.