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Co-Stars of Mean Girls 2 Sound Off on Tweens with Attitude

By Nicole D. Sconiers

The hit movie Mean Girls walked us down the dark corridors of high school cliques and cattiness. Now research shows that girls are becoming cruel, aggressive and bossy long before they're allowed to wear high heels and lipstick. OMG, what's a parent to do? Meaghan Martin and Maiara Walsh, co-stars of Mean Girls 2, dropped by the Dr. Phil studio to dish about this growing trend that is so not fetch.
"At that age, every girl is insecure and trying to find out who she is and fit in," says Meaghan, who plays Jo Mitchell, a good-hearted student who befriends the school outcast. A petite blonde with a ready smile, Meaghan admits that she battled her share of backstabbers and jealous girls on the playground.
"You do have a voice, and you need to learn to use your voice ...""
" Maiara Walsh
Her co-star, Maiara, says her middle school years were riddled with taunts. "All I wanted to do was be popular, so it hurt me that much more when they would call me these names," says the stunning brunette who plays Mandi DuPoint, leader of the group The Plastics. But the movie's clique of A-list chicks is a far cry from Maiara's true personality. "[The role] was fun for me, because I had to get into their heads and figure out, 'OK, why is this person acting the way they do, and why is that OK for them?'"
How can parents deal with this surge in pint-sized Plastics? If you fear that you're raising a bully, Dr. Phil says you need to take the situation seriously and intervene early. The most powerful parent in a child's life is the same-sex parent, so mothers, take heed if your "mini me" has a major mean streak. Mold your daughter's self-concept, reinforce strengths and model how to help others rather than abuse them.
"There's a big issue about whether these kids have empathy," Dr. Phil says, noting that young people have at their disposal more ways to terrorize their peers " via Facebook, Twitter and text messaging " than they did when the first Mean Girls hit the metroplex seven years ago. "Do they have the ability to understand what the person that they're targeting is experiencing? The problem with empathy is it's really hard to train, so you've got to get those experiences early on."
Meaghan and Maiara acknowledge that tween girls are under enormous pressure to be the prettiest, the best-dressed and the most well liked. Both actresses are involved in self-empowerment and anti-bullying initiatives, among them Stomp Out Bullying and Young Women's Empowerment Network. They share the following message for young fans:
"You do have a voice, and you need to learn to use your voice, or else people are going to continue doing things to you, because they might not know that it hurts your feelings," Maiara says.
"There are ways to stand up for yourself that aren't fighting fire with fire, and not going back and bullying them back," Meaghan adds.
Mean Girls 2 is now available on DVD and blu-ray.

Learn how to help teen girls survive bullying.