A Word from the Year 8 Coordinator’s Desk
A WORD ABOUT SOCIAL AGGRESSION
Social exclusion in the school environment is increasingly being recognised as a form of relational aggression or bullying, in which a child is exposed to harm through the manipulation of their social relationships and status (Edith Cowan University, 2009).
Fitting in with peers is a basic need that both female and male adolescents face. In particular it is found to be more common for girls as they constantly wrestle with being accepted and just wanting to be assured that they are okay. This is evident within friendship groups where social aggression and exclusion can be demonstrated, most often through acts of meanness.
Nicole Landry, author of the book Mean girls, ‘defines social aggression as one of the few tools available to girls to help them navigate their social world’ . Landry further describes meanness as, ‘to obtain power and position within the group’. Therefore, we need to be aware of what relationally aggressive behaviour looks like: ‘gossiping, social exclusion, spreading rumours or lies, dirty looks, or critical words’ (Hudson 2010).
Through the PDHPE curriculum units we assist our students in understanding how they navigate their way through friendships: Year 7 (Changes and Challenges), Year 8 (Supporting Myself and Others), Year 9 (Girl Talk). Educational groups such as Brainstorm Productions and the Young Australia Workshops (Bamboo theatre) will be visiting our school in July as part of the Year 8 PDHPE program and the Years 7-9 pastoral and well being workshops.Through their presentations they will offer real messages and practical strategies to assist our students in being resilient by having the courage to navigate their way through adolescence in order to strengthen and build their relationships in a positive way.
Parents also play a vital role in assisting their girls to be socially resilient against relational aggression (RA). Here are a few tips from the Bullying Prevention Resource Guide (2008).
- Teach empathy: Help girls form a positive self identity; that will lead to more supportive relationships with others.
- Emphasise that there is no middle ground; either you are against RA or you are for it (through passive support or direct aggression).
- Model the importance of taking care of your own friendships. Monitor your own gossiping; are you doing it in front of adolescents?
- Sensitise girls to be forgiving and accepting, while helping them maintain a sense of self-esteem and confidence.
- Give girls the basic skills to solve problems and resolve conflicts; without these skills, conflicts can get blown out of proportion and turn into RA fodder.
- Share your own instances of conflict and how you resolved it.
- Catch her being kind and praise her; this is more effective that criticising her when you catch her doing wrong.
- Ask her everyday, “who did you help today?”
For more information go to the following website http://www.bullyingprevention.org/repository/Best%20Practices%20PDFs/RelationalAgression.pdf
– See more at:
Mrs Katrine Barnes
Year 8 Coordinator