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Girls and Alternative Aggression Jessica Alferio Clark.

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1 Girls and Alternative Aggression Jessica Alferio Clark

2 What is Alternative Aggression? Alternative aggression combines relational aggression, indirect aggression, and social aggression. It is an alternative to physical aggression, or traditional bullying, and it is more covert than physical aggression. Alternative aggression is most prevalent during the middle school years.

3 Relational Aggression Relational aggression is when the relationship of two (or more girls) is used as a weapon or a leveling tool for one girl to get what she wants. Barbara Coloroso (2008) defines relational aggression as a tool “to be used to alienate and reject a peer or to purposefully ruin friendships. It can involve subtle gestures such as aggressive stares, rolling of eyes, frowns, sneers, snickers, and hostile body language.”

4 Social Aggression Social aggression is related to relational aggression. The goal of social aggression is to damage a member of a group’s self-esteem or status. Social aggression includes excluding, cyberbullying, and sexting. ◦ In some states, sexting is a criminal offense, and students may be charged with distributing pornography. ◦ Also in some states, cyberbullyng is a criminal offense, and students as well as schools may be held accountable for these crimes.

5 Indirect Aggression Indirect aggression is a covert act in which a girl avoids confronting her target directly. It can include gossiping about someone, passing notes, and leaving threats in someone’s locker.

6 Similarities Between Traditional Bullying and Alternative Aggression Both contain elements of an imbalance of power. One person (or group of people) holds power over another. Both hit their peaks in middle school (ages 10 – 14). Both are seen as a bigger, more frequent problem by the students than by the teachers.

7 Differences Between Traditional Bullying and Alternative Aggression Alternative aggression most often occurs when two girls are friends, not enemies. Alternative aggression is covert where traditional bullying can be seen out in the open. Alternative aggression is often looked as “what girls do,” and not an actual problem because there is little physical violence.

8 Perceptions of a Aggressor Since girls usually bully their own friends, the behavior goes on unnoticed. The aggressor is often a secure, charismatic, and intelligent girl who can intimidate her friends simply by looking at them.

9 Forms of Victimization Victimization can be verbal, relational, and even physical. Today, s, text messages, and messages posted on social networking sites are common forms of victimization. The victim is not necessarily a weakling; she’s just weaker than her aggressor. ◦ An example of this is when the girls who head two different cliques clash.

10 Warning Signs Not all girls who are subjected to alternative aggressions will exhibit these signs, nor not all girls who exhibit these signs are victims of alternative aggressions. School and social events with friends are a source of dread and anxiety. A drop in grades has occurred and extra- curricular act ivies no longer hold her interest. A girl becomes upset after receiving a phone call, text message, or . She may believe that ending her life may be the only way to end the harassment.

11 Damage Caused Alternative aggression inflicts emotional and psychological harm. If a girl is being harassed at school by her peers, her brain and body are no longer concerned with learning, but surviving the school day. She may not be absorbing any educational material.

12 A girl’s self-esteem may be compromised because of the aggression. As a result, the relationships she forms as an adult may not be positive ones. A girl may become paranoid and not trust herself along with those around her. The aggressor is also at risk for developing social and emotional problems. Because they are aggressors, they may not be well liked by others, and this can damage self-esteem.

13 Interventions If a girl seeks help and advice, she has decided that it is worth any future abuse she may endure at the hands of her aggressors. Interventions should focus on helping the victim heal and maintain her self-esteem.

14 Interventions should focus on helping the victim heal and maintain her self-esteem. Interventions should also include an exercise where a girl can practice confronting her aggressors. If, after completing other intervention exercises, she is comfortable in doing so, the victim should express her feelings to her aggressor.

15 Getting Help Girls should be encouraged to tell their parents about what is happening in their life. Working with the school’s guidance counselors or other counseling professional may help a girl deal with her anger and hurt and help her restore her self-esteem.

16 Parents should be cautious when approaching the parents of the other girls involved in the aggression. Parents should contact school authorities to let them know what is going on with their daughter if their daughter hasn’t notified the school. If the school has been notified, then parents should follow-up with the proper school authorities.

17 Final Thoughts On January 14, 2010, Phoebe Prince was found hanging from a stairwell in her family home by her younger sister. Her story is becoming all too familiar today in a world when girls are socialized to be nice and to conform to traditional gender roles, yet see how meanness and petty behavior can have its rewards through movies and television. Girls are constantly surrounded by mixed signals when it comes to their behavior and the classroom is no escape from these signals. Gone are the days where a teacher can open a book and teach. Teachers today are finding themselves responsible for the well-being of their students in what may be life or death situations and they need to be prepared for this.

18 Works Cited Coloroso, B. (2008). The bully, the bullied, and the bystander: From preschool to high school – how parents and teachers can help break the cycle of violence. (Updated ed.). New York, NY: Collins Living.


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