To the editor:
Because young girls, teens and even adults can become victims of relational aggression, Girl Scouts in Iowa are looking at ways of combating the issue in our back yard.
The week of Nov. 16-20 is Anti-Bullying Week and Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa and Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa & Western Illinois have joined forces to tackle the issue in the Hawkeye State.
For most people, bullying is defined as overstepping boundaries, intentional hurtful behavior and verbal abuse. Those issues often point to a much larger problem of relational aggression.
Behaviors that harm others by damaging, threatening to damage, or manipulating one's relationship with one's peers or by injuring one's feelings of social acceptance encompasses relational aggression.
Interestingly, nearly half of all girls define safety as not having their feelings hurt. In addition, almost one out of three young people in the United States are estimated to be involved in bullying, either as a bully, a target or both.
Girls are more likely than boys to participate in or be victims of relational aggression, and they tend to target their bullying at other girls in forms such as spreading gossip, encouraging others to reject or exclude another, name calling and teasing.
We believe Girl Scouts helps girls in dealing with relational aggression through the skills they learn in our programs. Girl Scouts has included a program for girls and training for adults that help them become aware of the problem and provide tips on how to be proactive instead of reactive.
Recent surveys by Girl Scouts of girls in Iowa show that across all grade levels that 70 percent frequently advocate for themselves and on behalf of others; 81 percent have confidence in themselves; and 80 percent feel connected to their community - locally and globally - and recognize the importance of creating diverse, supportive networks.
Girl Scouts in Iowa are bringing voice to girls' issues so that we may support the efforts for them to feel emotionally and physically safe in their school, community and home. Using advocacy, we are impacting girls to give them lifelong tools to build self-esteem and confidence. We're holding community forums that are educational and interactive. We're also working to educate policy makers on important issues affecting girls in Iowa.
Girl Scouts has always been the organization best positioned to offer girls the tools they need to be successful leaders now and throughout their lives.
Diane T. Nelson - Chief executive officer Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa & Western Illinois