Phoebe Prince’s bullying and suicide have led to an uproar about the “mean girls” lurking in schools everywhere—but is there really an increase in such incidents? “This panic is a hoax,” write Mike Males and Meda-Chesney Lind in the New York Times, citing numerous crime indexes, surveys, and statistics that show “violence by girls has been plummeting for years.” Stereotyping girls as bullies is prompting alarmism and, worse, punitive treatment that's tantamount to bullying itself.
The very same research shows middle-aged men and women have gotten more violent, so “why, then, don’t we see frenzied news reports on ‘Mean Middle-Agers’?” The media is “eager to sensationalize every ‘crisis’ among young people. "Why, in an era when slandering a group of people based on the misdeeds of a few has rightly become taboo," they write, "does it remain acceptable to use isolated incidents to berate modern teenagers, particularly girls, as 'mean' and 'violent' and 'bullies'? That is, why are we bullying girls?"