It ain’t easy being teen when the social stuff takes up so much time and emotional and mental real estate. A teen’s ability to resolve conflicts in multi-tiered relationships doesn’t match the challenges. We are communicating with more people than ever, but all our texting, chatting and tweeting only increases the chances of miscommunication.
Another problem, peer conflicts rarely involve only two people. Maybe it started with Isaac and Charlotte, but within minutes all their friends become combatants. Increase the number of fighters on any battlefield, real or virtual, and you increase the intensity of the fight and the number of casualties. For example:
Hey Terra, I am new this year and have worked hard to make friends. Now someone has been telling my close friends that I talk behind their back, which I never did! And they actually believe it! Now everyone hates me, even people I don’t know. They call me a FAT HIPPO! They even made a picture of me with Ho, Liar and Skank written on it. No one wants to be my friend and the rumors keep building up. It’s like I’m being tortured for something I didn’t do! Honestly, I would rather die than be here! I’m innocent and no one believes me. –Feeling depressed!
Hi, Feeling depressed, I’m sorry this awful stuff is happening to you. It’s so unfair when people refuse to listen to the truth and continue spreading lies. It’s hard enough moving to a new place and it doesn’t help having all this drama to deal with. Do you have a school counselor? If you haven’t yet talked to a caring, trusted adult, you should. Don’t feel powerless because you are not! –Terra
Hey Terra, I did talk to my counselor and he told me to ignore them and keep hanging in there. He called the girls in to “sit and talk” to me and IT GOT WORSE! They called me a baby and worse things! I hate it soo much and they still don’t believe me! I wish everything would just go away! Your reply has actually made me feel better cuz I feel like someone finally cares! thank you! btw, my name is Kate.–Kate
Dear Kate: Glad you talked to the counselor. That took courage. He thought if you “ignored” the girls their mean behavior wouldn’t have the power to upset you as much. But it’s not working. Go back and tell him “It got worse!” He needs to make it clear to these girls that what they are doing is not acceptable and if it doesn’t stop then their parents will be called in. If this harassment continues, talk to your parents so they can let the principal know what’s going on.–Terra
Hey Terra,Umm, do you know how I can prove to the girls that I’m innocent? If you don’t then that’s fine. I will talk to my parents and counselor. – Kate
Dear Kate, I’m glad you’re going to talk with your parents and to the counselor again. Sorry, I don’t know how you can prove your innocence. If your word isn’t good enough, nothing will be. Stop trying to convince them of anything. –Terra
Hey Terra! Guess what?! Yesterday everyone apologized to me! They really felt bad for believing those lies! I said it’s OK, but inside I know I need to watch who I trust and what I say around people! Everyone’s hanging out with me more. They said it’s cuz they think I’m a strong person! They said they’re proud of me –Kate
Dear Kate, I’m proud of you, too. Sometimes, when we say: “It’s OK” what we mean is “I am letting go of the bad feelings I’ve been holding.” That’s called forgiveness and it’s wise. It’s also wise to carefully choose who to trust. Especially after trust has been broken. Take what you learned and move forward with confidence! –Terra