“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, or will they?” When people think of bullying, they usually think of boys hitting each other, but what they don’t realize is that girls have their own way of bullying too. Recently, researchers have begun to study the hurtful behavior of girls. This type of behavior has been termed relational aggression. Relational aggression is a behavior that harms others by hurting their relationship with friends. Relational aggression most commonly occurs with girls. It usually begins in the elementary grades, peaks in the sixth through eight grades, and continues into high school. Children from all social classes use relational aggression.
There are two types of relational aggression, verbal aggression and psychological aggression. Verbal aggression includes teasing, name-calling, and making threats. Psychological aggression includes spreading rumors, the use of the silent treatment, negative body language, and exclusion of friends.
Female relational aggression is different from male bullying, because it is not usually shown physically. According to Rachel Simmons, author of “Odd Girl Out,” girls have a hidden aggression, and use backstabbing, exclusion, rumor spreading, and name calling, to inflict pain on victims. She believes that girls fight with body language and relationships, instead of fists. Simmons notes that, for this reason, relational aggression often goes undetected by parents and teachers. Experts believe that because relational aggression is not easily noticed, the behavior continues among girls.
Researchers from the University of California surveyed 2000 young teens, and found that twenty-four percent of the teens reported being involved in relational aggression. A report published by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that twenty-two percent of teens had been involved in relational aggression. Nineteen percent reported that they had been...