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On the last track, we discussed four myths of popularity. These four myths are, popularity equals happiness, popularity gives people self confidence, popular students have more friends and better friendships, and everyone likes popular people.
On this track, we will discuss six components of relational aggression. These six components are, looks, the gay issue, conceit, exclusion, rumors, and the label ‘slut’.
Candace’s, parents decided to move from the city into a rural area. Candace, age 15, was now in a very small school. Candace stated, "The girls in my class just wouldn’t accept me. At first, they just ignored me, and I was always eating lunch all alone. But then the popular girls, the ones who were ignoring me, started spreading rumors about me. It got to the point that I couldn’t walk down the halls without someone whispering ‘gay’ or ‘slut’. It’s horrible!"
Much attention has been paid in the news media to bullying that is physically or verbally aggressive in nature. However, as you have observed, relational bullying can be just as damaging, especially when all of the members of a clique participate in bullying one individual. Generally, the relational bullying is observed more frequently among girl cliques than cliques composed of boys.
According to Kathleen Winkler, a survey of 477 fourteen to seventeen year old girls revealed that 36% of these girls felt that the popular cliques often intimidated or embarrassed students not part of the clique. However, only one third of the girls surveyed said that the popular clique members who use relational aggression get into trouble at school for their actions.
Six Components to Relational Aggression
# 1 - Looks
In one survey of 12-14 year olds, 80% defined physical appearance as the most important thing that peers use to decide who fits in. Think of a student you are currently treating who is dealing with relational aggression. Has he or she suffered a loss of self-esteem as the result of a clique attacking his or her looks?
# 2 - The 'Gay' Issue
Laurie, age 10, was very active in sports, and kept her hair closely cropped for convenience. Laurie stated, "Amy is the most popular girl in school, but she and her ‘pals’ hate me, and I don’t know why! Yesterday, Amy yelled ‘get away, lesbian!’ and shoved me down the stairs when I walked past her. I don’t even know what that means!" During the intervention between the two girls that followed, I discovered that Amy herself did not have a clear understanding of what the word lesbian meant.
# 3 - Conceit
# 4 - Exclusion
# 5 - Rumors & Secrets
Teresa stated, "I guess Angie was secretly mad at me because this guy she liked asked me to dance. By the next morning, everybody knew I didn’t like Stacy. By lunchtime, my whole class was choosing sides and people were yelling at me! Stacy’s friends threw their lunches at me. It was horrible!"
# 6 - Lableing Someone a 'Slut'
Emily White interviewed hundreds of girls who had been labeled a ‘slut’. She concluded that a girl who is labeled a ‘slut’, regardless of whether she is actually sexually promiscuous, is rapidly isolated. According to White, even if boys claim to have slept with her, social rules prevent them from displaying any loyalty to her, or they will be branded ‘contaminated’ by her. Girls who may have been the target’s close friends may recede and keep a distance, concerned that they will also be labeled sluts if they associate with the target.
6-Step Technique: Confronting the Queen Bee
Think of your Candace. Would the Confronting the Queen Bee technique be helpful to him or her?
On this track, we have discussed six components of relational aggression. These six components are, looks, the gay issue, conceit, exclusion, rumors, and the label ‘slut’.
On the next track, we will discuss the five steps in the compromise on conformity technique for parents of excluded adolescents. These five steps are, paying attention to the adolescent’s style, undergarments, facial or body hair, hygiene, and compromising on media.
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