Bullying is not good for anyone, not for the victim and not for the perpetrator. And “mean girls” might not be just making the lives of other girls miserable, but their behavior may have consequences for their school work as well.
Both the bullies and the bullied are at risk for a host of psychological problems, although it’s unclear whether bullying causes or precedes those issues.
But there is new evidence that engaging in one type of bullying called “relational aggression” — that type of gossiping, harassment, and social exclusion at which girls have always excelled — may also lead to poor academic performance. A new study in this month’s issue of Psychology in the Schools suggests that there may be gender differences in how bullying affects school achievement. For elementary school boys in this study, only committing overt acts of aggression were found to significantly impact how these boys did in school. Among girls, it was the more relational types of aggression that were shown to be a risk factor for academic difficulties.
Girls who are bullies often show remarkable social intelligence, skillfully manipulating others. To me, this study adds yet another risk factor for kids that might impact how they do in school.
How do we as parents, teachers, and school leaders address this risk factor? Does anyone know of any effective programs that specifically relate to these gender differences in aggression?