Perhaps you’ve seen the movie Mean Girls. If so, you remember the popular clique of girls who ruled the social scene by backstabbing and being verbally mean to anyone they didn’t like. The movie reminds most of us of those one or two girls in middle school who could use their verbal aggression to put us in our place.
Boys don’t do this, right? It’s just the girls who use their verbal skills to talk behind your back. Boys are more physical. They prefer to beat you up physically, not verbally. At least that is how we typically think, but is it true? Are boys less mean?
Research published in Aggressive Behavior disputes this notion. Boys, it appears, use both their physical and relationship aggression to be mean, more so then girls. Surveys were given to 620 students asking them about their behavior. According to the seven-year long study, physical and relational aggression were more common in boys.
As you might guess, sixth to eighth grade proved to be the worse time for these types of aggression. Fortunately, the meanness drops off in high school with the senior year the best.
And did you know that the author of the book, Mean Girls, which the movie was based on, also wrote a sequel for boys? Yet, we didn’t hear much about that topic as a sequel. Based on the study, Mean Boys would be a good sequel!
So if you are a parent, teacher or someone who works with teens, keep in mind that boys use rejection, rumors, social exclusion and relationship aggression even more than girls. The stereotype of girls being the means ones, doesn’t hold. Relationship aggression for both boys and girls is an issue that needs to be addressed. Both genders need to work on being positive with their peers.
The paper, published in Aggressive Behavior, is available online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/AB.21563/abstract.