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Reducing ‘Mean Girl’ Behavior in Classrooms Creates a Healthier Social Environment in Schools, Research Finds

Reducing ‘Mean Girl’ Behavior in Classrooms Creates a Healthier Social Environment in Schools, Research Finds

New research from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has found that actively working to reduce relational aggression among girls benefits everyone in the school.

Relational aggression, referred to by The Science Blog as “mean girl behaviors,” is the most common type of aggression among girls and involves using gossip and social exclusion rather than physical altercation to “manipulate social standing or reputations.”

In order to conduct their research, “[t]he study team examined the broader effects of Friend to Friend (F2F), their relational aggression prevention program for urban ethnic minority girls, as part of a school-based randomized trial comparing F2F to a control group using an education-based intervention called Homework, Study Skills and Organization (HSO),” said The Science Blog.

F2F specifically focuses on reinforcing leadership and problem solving skills for urban African-American 3rd to 5th grade girls through 10-week, 20-session small groups.

To determine how effective F2F actually is on reducing relational aggression, the study team asked 665 youth from six schools to participate in the study. These students were in classrooms that had girls who participated in F2F or the control group, HSO.

Students and teachers were then asked to rate their classmates based on a series of behaviors like being nice, spreading rumors etc.

In classrooms where girls participated in F2F, not only were the participating girls demonstrate improved behaviors, but all students were rated more favorably by their peers.

"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,” The Science Blog said.

In other words, not only is F2F the first relational aggression intervention program that has proven to be effective for urban minority girls, it’s also a program that has demonstrated the potential to overall improve school climate.

Moving forward, the researchers will continue to assess why the program has such profound positive effects on non-targeted students, as well.

Read the full story.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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