Jun
07

The What and The Why of Female Bullying

By

What It Is

Relational aggression (RA) is a term we use to describe hurting others through the manipulation of relationships. It’s a form of bullying that’s also known as emotional bullying, relationship bullying or (because girls are so good at it) female bullying. However, both boys and girls use RA.

What It Looks Like

Relational aggression takes place when the Bully finds a Target and uses gossip, lying, name calling, silent treatment and cyber bullying (or any number of what we call Friendship Weapons™) to hurt their feelings. Sometimes, Bystanders sees the hurtful behavior happening, and the Bully uses them to manipulate the situation further.

When It Starts

Emotional bullying can start as young as 2 1/2 years old. Left unchecked, it can:

  • Continue for weeks or months (especially for girls)
  • Peak in middle school (thanks to hormones)
  • Escalate into physical violence (especially for boys)
  • Cause immeasurable emotional pain

Why Girls Use It

The schools, parents and youth organizations we talk to often ask why girls are so good at relational aggression. Part of the answer is that girls are wired as natural connectors. Girls will go a long way for connections with their peers, even if those connections are negative.

Also, their brain center for emotional memory is larger than boys. By nature, they are more sensitive to relational cues and find it hard to let go of emotionally charged events!

As role models for girls, it’s so important to educate ourselves about emotional bullying and how our children experience it. By understanding how relational aggression serves the Bully and affects the Target and Bystanders, we can be better equipped to guide our kids through painful friendships and emotional bullying situations.

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com

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