Social Worker: Girls Often Intimidate Each Other Differently Than Boys

[Channel3000, April 24, 2008]

Parents Urged To Lead By Example

MADISON, Wis. -- Beyond the physical aggression that is apparent in incidents like those recently documented at Toki Middle School, some social workers say there lies a deeper issue for teen girls.

They said that girls often bully differently than boys and parents and teachers don't catch the way girls subtly intimidate one another.

The tactic is called relational aggression and it involves using a relationship to manipulate and hurt another person, WISC-TV reported.

Because the bullying is often times more subtle, it's harder to catch.

Once adults know the warning signs, social workers said that it's important for them to not only step in and stop it but to lead a better example.

Judith Utevsky, who's a licensed clinical social worker for Group Health Cooperative, said that relational aggression takes many forms.

"That could include anything from excluding and turning away when someone walks by, or laughing when someone walks by, all the way up through spreading rumors to bullying and of course, physical aggression," she said.

Betsy Hambrick, a parent and school social worker, said that adults need to intervene.
"It's a good experience to fight that message that we're given that this is how girls behave. And it's just that girls are just catty with each other and not buy into that, and say, 'No, that's not how women are with each other.'"

The social workers also said that popular TV shows and movies like "Mean Girls" or "Gossip Girls" can make teens think catty behavior is appropriate. They advise parents to spend time with their teens and talking to them about what's going on in their lives.

They said for parents who feel their child needs help with bullying or relating to others at school, there are several programs to help.

For More Info

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