What is Relational Aggression?

Mean girls at slumber party
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Question: What is Relational Aggression?

Answer: Relational Aggression (R.A.) is a form of bullying common among tweens, and especially tween girls. The behavior describes an individual, or a group of individuals, who try to hurt a peer, or sacrifice another's standing within their peer group. Girls who exhibit Relational Aggression are sometimes referred to as Mean Girls.

About Relational Aggression

A child on the receiving end of relational aggression is likely to be bullied, gossiped about, teased, insulted, cyberbullied, ignored, excluded, and intimidated.

Relational Aggression is common during the middle school years, but is not limited to tweens. Preschoolers and adults can also engage in relational aggression.

Tweens who practice Relational Aggression do so to increase their own social standing, or control others. Unlike physical bullying, it can be difficult to spot Relational Aggression and the behavior may go on for some time before an adult notices.

Many states have laws that address bullying in the schools, so parents and educators should work with their school system to prevent or address bullying or Relational Aggression. In addition, if you think your child might be a victim, open up the lines of communication so that he or she can talk with you about the situation.

In addition, it's helpful to involve victims of bullying in extra-curricular activities in order to help them make friends with others who share their interests. In some cases, professional help is advised for victims and their families.

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