Alumnae Address Female Adolescent Violence
Kindness can be an underrated virtue for today's young women, who endure more pressure than ever to get ahead of the pack. The strains often lead to what Seaver College alumni Lauren Parsekian (’09) and Molly Stroud (’09) call "girl-against-girl" crime: manipulation, violence, threats, rumor-spreading, and outright bullying.
In a bid to combat the breakdown of sisterhood, the friends launched the nonprofit Kind Campaign. They have been traveling across America to speak at schools and learn more about this troubling phenomenon.
"A lot of the female community is so broken, and we wanted to start a dialogue about the issue," explains Parsekian, who was inspired by her own experiences of girl-against-girl crime in middle school.
The project began last year as a documentary, but while filming Parsekian and Stroud realized that the issue deserved a wider scope. In September they embarked on a monthlong campaign trail of speaking engagements, media interviews, and school assemblies.
"One thing we were curious about, both having lived and studied in Malibu, was if California is the worst state for this problem," says Stroud. "But in every state, girls have similar experiences of girl-against-girl crime, though about different things."
As an example, she says that in California, girls tend to fight over clothes and boys, while in Nebraska they fight over knowledge of farming and horses. They only found one exception on their journey. "We spoke to some girls in an Amish community. It seemed that they were the only girls we met that didn't recognize what we were talking about."
Through word of mouth and a buzzing Web site, the Kind Campaign has resonated with girls, teachers, and parents across the country, as well as the media. Though the project is still in its infancy, the girls have already been interviewed on the Dr. Phil show and in the New York Times.
The campaign is now off the road and the girls are editing the documentary, which will be screened at future campaign events. They both say if they can reach girls on a personal level, they will have satisfied their aim.
Parsekian recalls a group exercise in apologies with a senior high school class in Chicago, where apologies to one student in particular displayed the life-changing power of girl-against-girl-crime awareness. "We learned later that she had been considering leaving that school, but after the exercise was actually glad that she hadn't."