Bullying occurs in schools — there’s no doubt about that. However, who’s causing the bullying is up for discussion. There’s no stereotypical “bully,” and a new study suggests it isn’t all caused by the quintessential “mean girl.” As the beloved Tina Fey movie Mean Girls suggests, there is a group of catty girls that dictates a school’s social hierarchy. But new research from the University of Georgia says that boys actually manipulate others more than female students do.
The study analyzed victimization and aggression among 620 students from six Georgia school districts as they went through grades six through 12. In each of those grade levels, research indicated that boys participated in relational aggressive behavior more than girls. This behavior included things like malicious rumors, social exclusion, and rejection, with the intention to harm or manipulate others.
Professor Pamela Orpinas, who led the study, says:
In the end, I think we need to ask how we can focus on increasing the positive interactions among kids rather than the negative ones because the kids that students admire are often the ones who are fun and positive about others.
That’s great advice! Regardless of which gender is doing more of this bullying behavior, it needs to end.
For more on this topic, check out the “Which One of Them is a Cyberbully?” story from past issues of Choices. To learn more about Choices — a health, well-being, and life skills magazine for teens, click here.