Relational Aggression and Bullying: It's More Than Just A Girl Thing

Women's Stay-Leave Decisions in Relationships Involving Intimate Partner Violence Author: Nancy Mullin, M.Ed.

Year Published: 2003

Meanness and aggressiveness in girls has been the topic of recent media attention and several popular books, which have presented this behavior as a new and previously unstudied phenomenon, and one that is on the rise. Whether called "relational aggression," "social cruelty", "peer harassment", or "relational bullying", it is typically described as part of a hidden culture unique to girls. This paper examines these assumptions and cites research suggesting that relational aggression "along with bullying, sexual harassment, and other forms of personal violence" may be symptomatic of a larger pattern of societal violence that negatively affects both girls and boys. The paper makes the case that relational aggression is neither new among girls nor unique to them, and offers concrete, research-based, and developmentally appropriate strategies for improving the aspects of school climate that perpetuate relational aggression.

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