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Cliques get clique-ier, the need to be in power intensifies, and girls can get meaner — and much of this behavior stems from the intense desire to belong, the need to feel powerful, and the conditioning that many girls have to not express their feelings directly.

Some girls function as leaders, others as followers, and the rest live outside the groups.

“In sixth and seventh grades, girls get excited about becoming preteens and having their own world,” says Catherine Steiner-Adair.

“It’s a time when they develop their own set of interests and begin to think about the world around them.” The nature of friendship changes in middle school.

Some of these girls don’t care, while others desperately want to belong.