Adolescent Girl Life Skill: Understanding implications and consequences of bullying and gossiping
General Adolescent Life Skills: Empathy
Adolescence can be a difficult landscape to navigate in any culture, particularly for adolescent girls. Often times, girls bullying girls, rumours and gossip are daily occurrences in schools, in the neighbourhood and even in sport programmes. This can cause false (or true) information to spread and damage a girl’s reputation, social standing and status in the community. Once labelled, a girl can feel defined by that label and then engage in destructive or unhealthy behaviour she otherwise would have avoided because that is what everyone expects of her. This can cause low self-esteem, unhealthy choices and the opportunity for others to take advantage of her.
In this context, girls need to learn how to empathise, or feel what other girls feel, when they are bullied, gossiped about or the centre of rumours. Only through learning to empathise with others can girls stop these three elements that cause pain and often depression in adolescence. Coaches can be positive role models in this sense, modelling behaviour that discourages spreading personal information about others or making fun of others. Playing a team sport is also a lesson in the importance of solidarity. If some team members are bullying or spreading gossip about other teammates, that team is less likely to win in general because they have lost their team spirit.
- As a coach or facilitator, pay close attention to groups or clicks forming among girls in your programme. If you see one forming or dominating, try to deliberately split that group of girls when playing team activities.