Amazon; $12.49The suicide of Phoebe Prince and resulting arrests that allege the teen was bullied to death would seem to be proof positive that mean girls are more than just the stuff of Lindsay Lohan's pre-skanky days.
But if you read The New York Times this weekend, mean girls are nothing but a myth, a hoax, a media legend of massive proportions.
Which would be easier to believe if I don't see the vicious girls already circling in my daughter's pre-school.
Yes, I said pre-school, where not only my daughter but several other parents have reported there are select girls who have formed a clique and will not allow the other children to play with them.
It's the sort of stuff the crime statistics employed by The New York Times op-ed folks to prove the myth of the mean girls would never uncover. Sure, murders and violent assaults on girls are on their way down, as are the rates of girls committing heinous felonies.
But the Department of Justice doesn't have a category for the little girls being labeled "Big Boobs McGee" for developing too darn fast and spending every lunch period hiding in the bathroom, every gym class folding your arms across your chest.
Much of what happened to Phoebe Prince wouldn't show up on an crime victimization survey -- being called Irish whore in the hallways, being turned into a school-wide joke during an assembly. Bullying isn't clear cut, and it's rarely reported because the assistance of adults will make a child more of a mark.
I remember the sheer embarrassment of being taken to the principal's office with my friends one day in fifth grade. The principal saw me crying on the playground, and he forced the reason out of me -- my friends had done something (I honestly can't remember what). Next thing I knew, all five of us were frogmarched into his office so he could root out the problem.
It was to his credit, to be frank, but I was mortified straight through high school whenever anyone brought up "that time Jeanne had us taken to the principal's office." And these were friends -- imagine if they were the mean girls.
The fact is, the prototypical bully violence associated with boys -- the football team hazing, the bathroom swirlies -- are no less disturbing, but they're also easier to combat. Physical violence leaves physical marks.
Emotional abuse -- the name calling, the complete freezing out by one sector of a class -- is harder to ferret out, harder to track and yet just as devastating to the psyche.
And consider this -- new science posits males may be more dangerous in terms of violence, but females are more aggressive.
Not being able to see mean girls in action doesn't mean their actions are a myth; it means we need to be better attuned to our daughters.
Are your daughters encountering mean girls yet?