Rachel Simmons at the “Girls Symposium” – October 17 in Trumbull, CT

Here’s some information on an upcoming local symposium on girls featuring Rachel Simmons.  Many members of the Middle School faculty will attend; perhaps some parents would also like to attend.

 

FUND FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS’
2ND ANNUAL GIRLS SYMPOSIUM

Keynote Speaker
Rachel Simmons


Keynote speaker Rachel Simmons, is aNew York Times best-selling author, educator, and coach helping girls and young women grow into emotionally intelligent and assertive adults.

She will share best practices on empowering girls with confidence and courage.

The first 100 registrants will receive a free copy of The Curse of the Good Girl.

Thursday, October 17
Marriott Merritt Parkway, Trumbull

Join more than 200 educators, social service providers, parents, school resource officers and more at the Second Annual Girls Symposium.

You’ll experience expert-led presentations and workshops specially designed to help today’s girls and young women.

You’ll learn strategies you can apply in the following areas:

  • Teen dating violence and sexual assault
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Empowering girls to take on leadership roles
  • Body image and self-esteem
  • Bullying and cyberbullying
  • Fostering Collaboration among girls
  • And more

WHO SHOULD ATTEND

The Girls Symposium is ideal for:

    • Educators
    • Social Service professionals
    • Faith-based leaders
    • Therapists
    • School Resource Officers
    • Parents and guardians
    • Anyone who works with girls

REGISTER ONLINE

Registration is $75 per person and includes continental breakfast, lunch and materials.

Space is limited to the first 200 attendees, so register online today.

You can also print, complete and mail your registration form and check.

SYMPOSIUM DETAILS

Date: Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Location: Trumbull Marriott Merritt Parkway
180 Hawley Lane
Trumbull, Conn.
Driving Directions 

INFORMATION

Tricia Hyacinth
Program & Development Associate
The Fund for Women and Girls
thyacinth@fccfoundation.org
203.750.3223

 

 

Rachel Simmons Asks Why Friends Didn’t Help the Steubenville Rape Victim

By Rachel Simmons, Special to CNN
updated 5:34 AM EDT, Thu March 21, 2013

Watch this video

Steubenville victim’s mom: Raise awareness

Editor’s note: Rachel Simmons is the co-founder of Girls Leadership Institute and the author of “Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls.” Follow her on Twitter @racheljsimmons

(CNN) — Is anyone else wondering why the Steubenville, Ohio rape victim’s two best friends testified against her? With this week’s arrest of two other girls who “menaced” the teen victim on Facebook and Twitter, we have the beginnings of an answer.

Rape culture is not only the province of boys. The often hidden culture of girl cruelty can discourage accusers from coming forward and punish them viciously once they do. This week, two teenage boys were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old classmate while she was apparently drunk and passed out during a night of parties last August. Everyone who was there and said nothing that night was complicit; if we want to prevent another Steubenville, the role of other girls must also be considered.

On the night in question, girls watched the victim (Jane Doe) become so drunk she could hardly walk. Why didn’t any of them help her? Why, after Jane Doe endured the agonizing experience of a trial in which she viewed widely circulated photos of herself naked and unconscious, did one of the arrested girls tweet: “you ripped my family apart, you made my cousin cry, so when I see you xxxxx, it’s gone be a homicide.” Why were two lifelong friends sitting on the other side of the courtroom?

Rachel Simmons

Rachel Simmons

The accusation of rape disrupts the intricate social ecosystem of a high school, one in which girls often believe that they must preserve both their own reputations and relationships with boys above all else. This is a process that begins for girls long before their freshman year and can have violent consequences.

From the earliest age, girls are flooded with conflicting messages about their sexuality. They are socialized to be “good girls” above all: kind, polite and selfless. Yet they are also told — via media images, the clothing that’s marketed to them and the messages conveyed by some adults — that they will be valued, given attention and loved for being sexy. The result is a near-constant anxiety about not being feminine or sexy enough.

Meanwhile, girls consume romance narratives that tell them the most important relationships they can have are with boys who love them. They also observe a huge amount of psychological aggression among girls on television and in movies, often portrayed as comedy. Last year, researchers found that girls of elementary school age were more likely than boys to commit acts of social aggression at school after viewing them on television.

No surprise, then, that when the first crushes are confided in elementary school, it’s not uncommon for girls to turn on each other if they believe a friend is competing for the attentions of a boy they like. It often does not occur to them to reprimand the boy. This pattern is fairly innocuous in childhood, but by adolescence, it could have far more serious implications: Instead of grabbing the hand of a girl too drunk to consent and taking her to a safe place, some girls may instead angrily watch the drunken girl leave with a boy, figuring she deserves what she gets.

From late elementary school onward, the label “slut” hovers dangerously over girls’ every move. Most girls who are called sluts are not even sexually active. The word is used to distinguish “good” girls from “bad,” and the definition is constantly shifting. Few girls are let in on the criteria for who gets called a slut in the first place. The insecurity creates an incentive to call out someone else lest you be next.

In 2011, a study by the American Association of University Women found that girls in grades 7-12 were far more likely than boys to experience sexual harassment, including rumors, both in person and online. And Leora Tanenbaum interviewed 50 girls and women for her book, “Slut! Growing Up Female With a Bad Reputation;” all of them told her girls, far more than boys, were at the forefront of the slut rumor mill.

I am not saying that Jane Doe was raped because of girls’ silence. Girls may choose not to speak up for many reasons, but it’s hard to ignore the power of a culture that pushes them to choose boys over each other and punish other girls to protect their own reputations.

We must talk to girls about their responsibility in situations like this. If we want to prevent another Steubenville, we need to teach children from an early age about gender-based violence. The word “slut” is not just an epithet; it is a word that has given adolescents permission to abandon and hurt each other when a girl needs support most.

Girls must understand not only their moral obligation but their power to be allies to each other at parties and other potentially unsafe spaces for girls. If boys knew that girls banded together to support each other, they would be less inclined to share on social media, much less commit, these horrific acts of sexual violence.

Instagram Unmasked: A Teen Explains Why It’s All the Rage

Instagram Unmasked: A Teen Explains Why It’s All the Rage

From rachelsimmons.com FEBRUARY 11TH, 2013 

instagram

by Valerie Aber

I made my Instagram account when I was in 10th grade, bored one day over spring break. At first I didn’t see the purpose – who needed to spend time taking and scrolling through cell phone-quality pictures of food and flowers? But then I realized the app could be used as a photo-diary of sorts.

My Instagram profile is set to private. There are random “selfie” shots of my face and lots (LOTS) of pictures of food. There are pretty pictures of clouds and tempting pictures of Starbucks cups. And there are pictures of homework assignments scattered about – pictures of large textbooks cracked open in front of my laptop screen and pictures of papers covering the floor. (What color was my carpet again?)

You can actually learn a lot about someone just by looking at their Instagram profile. It’s more than just random pictures of things – depending on how personal they get with it, it can show their interests, ambitions, hopes and dreams. It can show the little things that make them happy, whether that means they won a special award or even that their parents ordered in Chinese for the night.

But many teens don’t always account for the power that these images can hold. I’ve also seen Instagram used for cyberbullying. With today’s smartphones, it’s easy to screenshot text messages and share them to the world.

One of my good friends was targeted in a comment on someone else’s screenshot texts – another girl had claimed she was persistent and annoying because she had sent her two or three messages asking “Hey, what’s up?” after not having heard from her in weeks. Whether such acts were “persistent and annoying” is beside the point – the commenter was being entirely rude and immature for saying such things about my friend to so many people, and the original poster was wrong for publicly sharing whoever’s text messages were being shared. The entire thing was wrong on so many levels.

Of course, all of these things could be just as easily done through other social networking services, like Facebook. But most teens realize that their parents, family members, and even potential employers and colleges can view their Facebook profiles. On the other hand, not many of those groups would probably think to check an Instagram right away. So, this leads to many of us feeling like Instagram is our own private little world, one where we get to speak our minds with little consequence. Which, as always, is false.

Instagram shouldn’t be blocked, but it should definitely be monitored, at least to some extent. Because if a parent really knows their child… well, they never really do as well as they’d like to believe they do. Some of us keep secrets. Except that they’re never really secrets, unless the people who are exposed to them are too ignorant to listen. And ignorance never mixes well with good parenting.

Parents should at least be mindful of those accounts that their child is “following,” and be willing to discuss with their kids anything they might see on there. It’s not that the parents should be constantly watching with hawk eyes – please, don’t ever do this – but they should remember to be open. If you’re a parent, remind your children: “Though you’d be in huge trouble if you ever posted anything bad, I’ll never punish you for accidentally coming across an inappropriate picture on your feed. If you find anything that makes you uncomfortable, I’m willing to talk with you about it, and I promise that I won’t negatively judge you if you do so.”

Make sure your kids know that no matter what button they might press, there is no such thing as true privacy when it comes to technology. Looking at this in a more positive light, you should actually encourage your kids to post personal achievements or things that make them happy.

As long as their settings only allow for people who they know to view their photos, this can provide for not only a safe experience, but also one that helps them to grow in a good way, one that allows them to be viewed to the outside world as someone lovely and bright.

Including, perhaps, college admissions officers. I just hope they like Frappuccinos.

Oh, and to sum everything up with a quote from Roald Dahl:

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

Valerie Aber is a high school junior who lives in Florida. She is active in the National Honor Society and her school’s debate team.

Our Daughter’s Voices

See below for information on a series of workshops, for daughters and parents, related to relational aggression held at Positive Directions in Westport, CT.

While much has been said about boys and bullying, the more subtle aggression that girls demonstrate is still a mystery. In a society, which does not encourage girls to exhibit anger in traditional ways, aggression expresses itself in many forms, including exclusion, whispered insinuations, rumors and manipulation. This schoolgirl cruelty often has lasting consequences for girls, following them from adolescence into young womanhood and adulthood.

Author Rachel Simmons put a name to this hidden culture of girls’ aggression in her best selling book ‘Odd Girl Out’, in which she addresses how this phenomenon diminishes our daughters’ self esteem and how families and schools are affected.

In response to the concerns parents have expressed about this behavior, Positive Directions offers a series of workshops entitled Our Daughters’ Voices.

During four interactive sessions, participants can expect to explore:

  • What is relational aggression;
  • The relationship between voice and self-esteem in girls;
  • Characteristics of a healthy friendship & maintaining authentic relationships;
  • Understanding the difference between friendship and popularity;
  • Effective ways to identify and communicate feelings;
  • The connection between relational aggression and risky behavior;
  • Effective techniques for listening without trying to control;
  • Being a role model for your daughter.

For information on the scheduling of Creating Lasting Family Connections; Our Daughters’ Voices and other Positive Directions’ workshops in your area, please call:

203-227-7644 ext. 127
or
prevention@positivedirections.org

About Positive Directions:

Since 1973, Positive Directions – The Center for Prevention & Recovery, has been reaching out to individuals, families and communities in the Fairfield County, Connecticut area, providing treatment, counseling and education programs focused on the prevention of and recovery from substance abuse and dependencies.

At Positive Directions, our caring and professional staff offer counseling, support and Intervention services for individuals and families seeking treatment for alcoholism, drug abuse & addiction, problem gambling and other addictive behaviors. For adolescents, we offer Youth Evaluation Services designed to provide counseling, referrals and support to adolescents and their families.

Positive Directions also offers prevention programs that promote positive parenting and the prevention of risky behavior by teens and young adults.

Positive Directions is a state licensed out-patient treatment center, and as an independent, non-profit and non-sectarian agency, Positive Directions guarantees client confidentiality and the promise that no one seeking help is turned away for lack of funds.