Saturday, October 01, 2016

Reducing 'mean girl' behaviors in classrooms benefits boys and teachers too

blic Release: 2-Aug-2016
Reducing 'mean girl' behaviors in classrooms benefits boys and teachers too
CHOP researchers: Relational aggression program, pioneered in girls, improves overall classroom climate
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

When a targeted program to reduce relational aggression among at-risk girls is shared with the entire classroom, the entire class benefits--not just the aggressive girls for whom the program was developed. Researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) recently reported these findings from Friend to Friend (F2F), a program they developed to prevent relational aggression among urban girls.

Relational aggression, popularized as "mean girl" behavior, is nonphysical, using gossip and social exclusion to manipulate social standing or reputations. In contrast to the physical aggression more prevalent among boys, relational aggression is the most common type of aggression among girls.


After the intervention, not only did the targeted aggressive girls participating in F2F improve their behaviors, but boys within these girls' classrooms scored higher in peer-ratings of positive friendships and being nice, and scored lower in peer ratings of rumor-spreading, exclusion and fighting, compared to boys in HSO. The boys also had more positive relationships with their teachers than similar boys in HSO classrooms. Even girls in the F2F classrooms who were not involved in the direct group intervention were rated by peers as being higher in positive friendships and being nice compared to girls in the HSO classroom.

"A program focused on improving behaviors among urban aggressive girl students also had positive effects on non-targeted students and served to improve the classroom climate," says Dr. Leff. "We hope our future studies will determine why the program has such strong effects for non-targeted youth. Regardless, we are excited about the initial impact, and feel that the program has great potential for helping aggressive girls and their classmates."

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