Mean boys rule schools more than girls
Remember that movie “Mean Girls”? If new research indicates anything then filmmakers might have a box office hit with a male version of this movie. A new study reveals that boys use aggression in relationships, such as nasty rumors, social exclusion and rejection to manipulate or hurt others more often than girls.
“We have books, websites and conferences aimed at stopping girls from being aggressive, as well as a lot of qualitative research on why girls are relationally aggressive,” said lead study author professor Pamela Orpinas in a statement. “But oddly enough, we don’t have enough research on why boys would be relationally aggressive because people have assumed it’s a girl behavior.”
The study, published in the journal Aggressive Behavior in November, showed that many more boys than girls committed acts of relational aggression while more girls than boys were more likely to be victimized or on the receiving end of this aggression.
Researchers gathered data from more than 600 students in six northeast Georgia school districts. Participants in the study completed annual surveys for a period of seven years from grade six to 12.
“Almost all of the students surveyed, 96 percent, had passed a rumor or made a nasty comment about someone over the course of the seven-year study,” said Orpinas, a professor of health promotion and behavior in the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia.
More than 90 percent of participants also reported being victims of relationship aggression at least once.
While study findings emphasize the need for more examination of so-called mean boys and why they behave the way they do, Orpinas said, they also underscore a need to include boys and girls equally in programs aimed at reducing relational aggression.
“In the end, I think we need to ask how we can focus on increasing the positive interactions among kids rather than the negative one because the kids that students admire are often the ones who are fun and positive about others,” said Orpinas.
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