Talk to most any high school girl and they will tell you how “mean girls” try to get their way.
“When girls argue [about] whatever, they always got to get they point across. Anything they argue about they always got to get they point across, and have the last word,” explains Lenisha Connors, Washington High School senior.
That last word could lead to violence or something else.
At South Bend's Washington High School there is a group of impressive young women who are getting a different point across.
“We started a group we lovingly call Girlfriends because we all are girlfriends and we're all here to support and help each other,” explains Assistant Principal Teresa Phillips, Washington High School.
Phillips is well aware of what mean girls are capable of.
“I think girls are trying to find out who they are and where they belong. And so a lot of times we tend to lash out and do things if you will, to get attention,” explains Phillips.
To get into Girlfriends, Washington teachers nominate girls who are leaders, good students and students without a perfect record. After all, leadership comes in many different ways.
“There are two paths that they can choose, but we're asking and working [with] our girls towards the good path,” says Phillips.
When confronted with conflict, there was a time when these young women may have answered with violence, but this organization has changed their way of thinking and it has changed their lives.
“I really wasn't the type of person to always walk away from stuff. But then when I got in Girlfriends, I learned to always not talk crazy to people, not always try to fight, [but] to walk away and work my problems out,” explains Shearice White, Washington High School senior.
“I have noticed a difference. In pride, in how they carry themselves. I see young women who sometimes may have been confrontational. I see them break things up in the hall. I've seen them go up to 12, 13-year-olds and say no, no, no, no, no,” says Teacher Constance Green.
For these girls, the “stand up and fight” mentality is being replaced by a much more positive message.
“Ok, freshman year. If someone said one thing about me, I was ready to fight. But then a lot of people have told me, ‘Kendra, you're too smart’, ‘Kendra you have a lot going for you’. After I kept hearing that all the time, I said, ‘you know what, you're right’, because most of the girls that try to fight me, they're the ones that aren’t going to be anything while I’m succeeding in life,” explains Kendra Crew, Washington High School senior, succeeding in life with her girlfriends’ right along with her.