Straight Talk Advice

Dec 08, 2010

Anonymous cyberbully fakes as friend… maybe

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: Lately, I’ve been the victim of cruel and hateful anonymous cyberbullying. I had no idea who was behind it as I have no known enemies. Then I found out on excellent authority that it is my stepsister. We are the same age and attend the same school. She is nice as can be to my face and I thought she was my friend. I had even confided in her about the cyberbullying and she had pretended to be sympathetic. Making matters worse, we share a room during visitations at my dad’s. It will be hard to act blind to what’s going on, but I don’t know how to confront her or what to do if she denies involvement. Please help. — Betrayed in Sacramento

Farren 23, Redding, Calif. Ask me a question

Tell your stepsister, not meanly, but matter-of-factly, that you won’t tolerate this. Give her a 24-hour deadline to stop or you’ll tell your parents. But only tell if it doesn’t stop. They could make things worse. Regarding “mean girl” behavior, my public school seventh grade had just 11 girls. It was very cliquey and a friend and I were falsely accused of being lesbians. Instead of parents and teachers using the situation to teach anti-bullying, they just said, “Let it work itself out on the playground.” It got so bad my mom pulled me out and home-schooled me. I think “mean girl” behavior is learned from hearing insecure mothers gossip behind the backs of their supposed friends. (Note to readers: Could we all please work on our stuff before having kids?)

Akasha 16, Sacramento, Calif. Ask me a question

Once a friend was talking smack behind my back, but I was talking smack about her, too. When I confronted her, I took responsibility for my part. I’m not saying you have a part, but try approaching her with, “We’re sisters and I’m not perfect, so tell me what I did wrong to cause this.” I attend private school and there is basically no bullying. Partly, it’s small, but also the school won’t tolerate it and immediately sits down with students and their parents.

Hannah 16, Safford, Ariz. Ask me a question

Whether online or in person, harassment is the way of jealous girls. Ignoring it is best, but if it’s too much, talk to an adult. It seems this girl is jealous of something about you.

Lennon 24, Fair Oaks, Calif. Ask me a question

It sounds like your stepsister feels threatened or jealous. I’m around lots of girls and they tend to be more fake about stuff like this than guys. The “valley girl” stereotype, where girls talk bad about each other behind their backs, really occurs. I think it’s because most females fixate on fashion, style and relationships. Since these are 24/7, it drives them to gossip 24/7.

Anjanette 17, Safford, Ariz. Ask me a question

Girls can be catty. No matter what, believe in yourself, not what others say.

Katelyn 16, Huntington Beach, Calif. Ask me a question

Seek better evidence. In the meantime, keep your real friends close in case rumors arise at school. Don’t de-friend her online, but avoid the offending site. Ask for your own room or find an excuse not to visit your dad’s for awhile.

DEAR BETRAYED: The panel’s advice to confront your stepsister is good if you know she is truly the bully. But I worry that the evidence isn’t solid enough. Trusting gossip (i.e., your “excellent authority”) to unravel gossip could create a big family mess where there was none. Instead, I recommend tackling this like you would any other anonymous bullying by reporting it to all three legs of the anti-bullying platform: parents, school and police. Confide in your stepsister that you plan to do this tomorrow. Things may “miraculously” stop. But if it continues, keep reporting to all three entities until the real bullies are rooted out.

Editor’s Note: Note the difference between Farren’s small public school and Akasha’s small private school. Private schools control bullying better not because they’re smaller, but because they address bullying immediately by gathering involved parties and facilitating zero-tolerance solutions. Many also teach non-violent communication. Regarding the origins of “mean girl” behavior, my hunch is that it ultimately sprang from competition for men from the days when marrying well (or having a loving father-figure) was a female’s only sure path to success. Since females today still make themselves attractive to males via fashion, looks and personal style (often over substance), they continue cutting each other down on this level in order to weaken the competition. Sadly, a big arena for this today is the mixed family, where tremendous competition and secret loathing can take place between stepchildren. Functional families are like functional schools. Parents need to teach non-violent communication and adopt loving zero-tolerance strategies for anything less. —Lauren

  1. By Lizzie, age , from San Bruno, CA on 12/08/2010

    How good is your “good authority”?  Are you absolutely certain?  You better be before you start accusing somebody.  I speak from experience.  I was cyberbullied shortly after having a falling out with my stepsister, and I was certain that she was the one doing it.  It included cruel comments about imperfections in my body that only somebody who had seen me naked would know about and she sees me since we also share a room during visitations and I had never worried about undressing in front of her because we’re both girls and she never put me down or even said anything.  I accused her and also told my dad and stepmom that she was doing it to me and they believed me and it got her in major hot water.  However, I later found out that it was another girl who was jealous of me because she had a crush on a guy who started asking me out and became my boyfriend.  I didn’t have any idea that she had any reason to do this to me, so I never suspected her.  But she admitted it to a close friend of mine and when I confronted her she admitted it.  I’d forgotten about it but we had been at a slumber party more than a year before and she had seen me naked then.  I had to eat major, major, crow and apologize profusely to my stepsister.  However, she’s still cold and distant toward me and I can’t really blame her and it makes things difficult since we’re still sharing a room every other weekend.  So make sure you’re right before you start accusing somebody.

    Lizzie

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  2. By Lauren Forcella, age , from Fair Oaks on 12/08/2010

    Lizzie,
    Thank you for writing in with this. Nobody teaches better than someone who’s been there.  I hope things eventually thaw between you and your stepsister. Maybe you could show her this link so she knows you not only continue to regret your action, but are helping others avoid the same mistake.
    Love,
    Lauren

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