Mean girls? Turns out, boys are meaner!

By Drum Digital
03 December 2014

You’ve heard the stories. Gossiping behind each other’s backs, name-calling and emotional blackmail and bullying.

Countless studies, books and films have been devoted to the complex social relationships between teenage girls and the ways in which ‘mean girls’ operate.

But now scientists are claiming that boys might be the real culprits.

Researchers from the University of Georgia in America conducted a study including boys and girls and found that boys are socially aggressive, too, sometimes even more than girls.

“Every time there’s a study on relational aggression, it’s about the girls,” Pamela Orpinas, one of the researchers, told BuzzFeed Life. “And the books are about the girls, and the websites are about the girls. And we have very little about the boys.”

Pamela and her team had students answers questions like how often in the past 30 days had they shut someone out from a social group, try bully someone into doing something, spread false rumours or try and keep a friend from liking another friend.

They also asked the students to indicate how often they were victims of this type of behaviour.

They found that boys admitted to more acts of aggression than girls and that girls were more likely to be victims.

Luckily, the researchers also had some good news. They found that most kids fall in the ‘low’ category of this behaviour which means that at some point, most kids are likely to misbehave toward a friend, but that the mean behaviour isn’t permanent or ongoing.

Sources: BuzzFeed, Onlinelibrary.wiley.com

Help your child combat bullying:

-        Build their self-image. “Continue to support them emotionally. It’s important for them to build up enough self-confidence,” says Claire O’Mahoney of the Sandton Psychology Centre in Johannesburg.

-        Help them to create support networks. “It’s important that other people in your child’s life support them to counteract the rejection,” Anel Annandale, an educational psychologist in Cape Town, says. They could be relatives or family friends’ children of her age.

-        Teach them how to confront the nasty kids. “They must be able to tell these kids what they’re doing is mean,” Annandale says.

-        Help them to understand their circumstances aren’t unique; they might come across such people again later in life, O’Mahoney says. The most important thing is not to try to force the other kids to change their behaviour but that your child should decide how to handle the situation.

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