Girl World: Rebekah, Peggy, Jay

Tormented Teen

Rebekah's mom, Peggy, worries about her daughter. "When I drop her off at school, I can watch the girls who have been attacking her waiting for her," she says. "When I drop her off, I drive back home feeling dread and worry. I'm sick, physically ill. My biggest fear is they're going to physically hurt her."

[AD]Rebekah says this group of girls waits for her every day and throws insults at her as she walks to class. They've also circulated rumors that she stuffs her bra, she is a lesbian, makes out with guys behind the building and that she has an invisible boyfriend. They rigged a table to break when she sat on it, they've called her pretending to be a friend and then threatened her, she's been pushed into a corner and punched in the arm, and when she makes new friends, they are pulled away from her to isolate her. Some girls have also circled her front yard on their bicycles to appear threatening and have made fun of her mother.

 

At home, Peggy has an emotional talk with her daughter.

"Tell me how you're feeling as you watch that," Dr. Phil says to Rebekah.

"I feel really sad, and I feel that when you go to school, it should be a safe place to be, not someplace where you're going to be thrown out, aside from everybody else. It makes me feel really upset," she says.

"This is getting to you," he says.

"Very much," she says.

"What do you say to yourself when this is happening to you?"

"Maybe some of the things they're saying are true because so many people say it, and it feels like whatever they say must be true because everybody says it," she says. Rebekah says the bullies tell her she's ugly, fat and never wears the right clothes.

Peggy says it's painful to watch her daughter get hurt. "It's changing who my daughter is, and I resent that. It's changing how she looks at the world, her wanting to go to school and get involved. It's taken her grades from high honors to barely passing in a matter of a single year because she's so focused on staying safe and avoiding all those girls who are going to tear her apart," she says. 

Dr. Phil stands up for Rebekah.

 

After reviewing the ways Rebekah is tormented, Dr. Phil asks her to imagine what type of person does what they do to her. "What kind of demented person does that?" he asks.

[AD]"The ones who don't have anything better to do. They don't feel good about themselves," Rebekah says.

"That's a start," Dr. Phil says. He tells her that these girls have a mean spirit, and it's all about them, not her.

Dr. Phil points out that Peggy has taken every reasonable action she can to get the teachers and principal at school to help. She's sent multiple e-mails and had many phone calls to various administrators at Rebekah's school, and she says she hasn't received much of a response.  

Dr. Phil's son, Jay, author of the book, Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies, joins the discussion. Jay is very passionate about stopping bullying in schools. He tells Rebekah that kids will act differently around different kids, so there is probably a ring leader in the group of girls who torment her, and the others just join in to protect themselves. "You should know that when you see them that most of the girls who are doing this are probably really embarrassed that they're doing it," he says.

Dr. Phil points out that Rebekah is really mature, considering that she's a brown belt in karate and could probably give these girls "an ass-whoopin'." He's glad she doesn't resort to violence, but she should feel confident that she could at least protect herself if she had to.

"I think that's important," Jay tells Rebekah. "You have to walk through the halls with a great sense of confidence, and the fact that you know that you really are not in physical danger " because if push comes to shove literally, you're going to do just fine."

"You have to get in a right place in your mind," Dr. Phil tells Rebekah. He says an important tool for her is eye contact. "You have to be willing, when somebody does that, to not hang your head, and that means you have to change what you're telling yourself about who you are, because what's happening is this: When they're around, they're telling you you're fat, you're ugly, you're poor, all of those sorts of things, but when they're gone, you repeat those things in your mind, don't you?" Rebekah nods. "It's like you've joined them," he says.

[AD]Jay reminds her that if she starts believing what the bullies say to her, and she stops wanting to go to school, and she lets her grades slip, then the bullies begin to win. If she shows them that they're not making an impact on her life, then they'll stop, because they won't be winning at their own game.