A recent U.S. Department of Education showed an increase in bullying among girls. Cyberbullying, or more specifically bullying via social media, seems to be the vehicle and other girls appear to be the perpetrators. The increase in girl-against-girl bullying is cause for concern, but unfortunately, it’s not a new one.
In 2009 Kind Campaign was formed by Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson, who were college students at the time. The idea was sparked when the film majors decided to create a documentary about girl-against-girl bullying and it quickly evolved into a nationwide movement and a non-profit organization. Having been victims of these hurtful behaviors themselves, Paul and Thompson knew there was an audience in need of their message.
Ten years later, their mission is clear, “Kind Campaign is an internationally recognized nonprofit organization that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl bullying through global movement, documentary film, in-school assemblies and educational curriculums.”
The non-profit utilizes their film Finding Kind as a foundation for school assemblies that enables girls to have open discussions about the often hurtful dynamics of bullying, cattiness, jealousy and power struggles that plague so many female relationships. While these stereotypes are often perpetuated by the media, Kind Campaign works to educate young girls about the very real impact this kind of negative behavior can have on their peers, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts and actual suicide in some cases.
While Kind Campaign has seen great progress, the rise in girl-against-girl bullying is not a surprise, co-founder Paul telling Parentology, “We aren’t surprised to see the rise in girls experiencing cyberbullying. Before social media, coming home from school felt like a safe place for girls who might have been bullied within their school hallways. Now that our phones keep us connected to others at all times, there isn’t ever an “off switch” for bullying to take place. Girls have real-time access to what other girls are doing, which means they’re more exposed to feeling excluded and scrutinized for everything, from their image to the way they express themselves.”
The rise in these behaviors coupled with the constant pressures of social media makes the need for organizations like Kind Campaign more pronounced. Kind Campaign has no intention of slowing down and makes itself accessible to as many girls as possible, “We’re incredibly proud of Kind Campaign being able to offer in-school assemblies completely free of charge, so that anyone can sign up their school to host a Kind Campaign Assembly,” co-founder Molly Thompson tells Parentology.
The effects of Kind Campaign are overwhelmingly positive and show that these behaviors can be changed. Thompson noting, “Our surveys show that 96 percent of girls who experienced an assembly felt more compelled to be kinder, which definitely shows that these dynamics have the ability to be shifted.”
Paul and Thompson believe the girls they see across the country are the catalyst needed for change, “We think that girls have the power to create ripple effects of kindness through leading by example –– practicing random acts of kindness, showing inclusivity, and encouraging open communication between friends. It’s always been really important for us to teach girls they can still practice kindness while standing up for themselves.”