DEAR HARRIETTE: My 15-year-old daughter is having a hard time at school. She once got along with most of the girls and boys in her class, but now she seems to be ostracized by the lot of them. I know how girls can be. I had my fair share of torment from girls in my high school when I was growing up. The thing is, I do not know what to do to protect my daughter or even to guide her to a safe place. These girls are relentless. They either taunt my daughter or ignore her; at least that's what I can get out of her when she will talk. I want to do something, but my daughter has begged me not to say anything. How can I help her? -- Protecting My Girl, Seattle
DEAR PROTECTING MY GIRL: Keep the conversation going with your daughter by telling your own stories and those of other girls from your past who may have had similar experiences. Be sure to describe how you handled them, who helped you, what mistakes you think you made and what you might have done differently. Let her know that she is not alone, even as this is a very traumatic time for her.
Do your best to get her to talk to you. Listen for experiences that she is having that may seem dangerous. Monitor her whereabouts. Make sure she has a phone with tracking on it so that you can come to the rescue if needed. Check out her room thoroughly to look for indications of depression or drug or alcohol use. Some children who are taunted end up in those situations.
Finally, even though your daughter does not want you to talk to her school, if you fear for her safety, it is your duty to speak up. You can request a confidential meeting with the principal or guidance counselor to ask them to be on the lookout for your daughter and to intervene if it seems necessary.