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Harriet Walker: Nothing more terrifying than quiet malice of teenage girls

There is no stronger poison known to man than the venom of teenage girls. It comes as no surprise that it should be the most disruptive element in modern classrooms – the cloying, passive-aggressive spite of sustained character assassinations and whispering campaigns amounts to psychological torture.

Girls are consistently patted on the back for knuckling down and getting on with their work and enduring the challenges of puberty without jumping on their desks or marking their territory. They are simply quieter than their male peers; female terrorism has less bravura, fewer performative aspects. It is more likely to take place silently, with glares exchanged in corridors or a building sense of dread before every lesson. It is much more likely to affect concentration and conscientiousness over time – and to segregate and divide – than the sprezzatura of teenage boys.

Sadly, there isn't much of a remedy – this is, unfortunately, how girls treat each other and, in many cases, is not something they grow out of. In an ideal world, the amount of academic and social competition between young women would be reduced; they would feel less pressure to be the best or to impress attendant boys. But this is unrealistic.

In the meantime, teach them humanity and humility. There is nothing worse than reaching adulthood with the knowledge that you wronged someone at school. That enduring shame is punishment enough.

Independent News Service