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Study: Relational Bullying Occurs Among Boys As Well

by John Gomez | Last Updated: October 19, 2016
Relational Bullying

Experts have thought for years that there are certain types of bullying that are more common among girls and other types of bullying that are more common among boys.  For instance, relational bullying has always been associated with girls.  Boys have always been more direct in their bullying of each other based on general knowledge.  It’s possible that the experts were not totally correct in these assumptions, though.  A recent study has challenged this train of thought, as researchers have found that relational bullying is also common among boys.  This discovery represents advancement in our learning with regards to this issue, but it also presents some new challenges.  In our ongoing effort to bring as much awareness to the bullying issue as possible during National Bullying Prevention Month, we’re going to provide overviews to this issue and this study below.

About Relational Bullying

Relational bullying is a type of bullying that is relatively subtle on the surface.  It does not involve direct confrontation or physical violence in most situations.  It does involve progressively trying to harm someone’s reputation or relationships.  Some experts refer to relational bullying as social bullying.  According to StopBullying.gov, relational bullying involves the following:

  • Intentionally leaving someone out of a group activity or conversation
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
  • Spreading damaging rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone publicly

People have used several different terms to describe relational bullying, and almost all of them include a word or phrase that involves girls.  Some have called this “girl bullying” or the actions of “mean girls” or something along those lines.  The study described below seems to contradict that belief.

About the Relational Bullying Study

Researchers in Norway completed the study.  Those interested can find a link to a download of the full report here.  They studied 20 different schools in Norway.  Researchers spent three weeks sitting in classrooms and spending time in other areas of four different schools for a period of three weeks.  They talked to students, teachers and staff members about the environment in these schools.  They observed the interactions between students.

Initially, the researchers thought that common knowledge had been reinforced.  They heard girls talk about how they had been excluded and how others had spread rumors about them.  This all fit into the “traditional” definition of relational bullying.  When they reviewed their notes again, however, the researchers found that boys had also suffered through relational bullying.  The difference was that the boys did not recognize it as such.  The researchers were surprised that neither they nor teachers and administrators recognized it initially either.  Therefore, they concluded that boys do endure relational bullying and they encouraged additional study into the matter.

Relational Bullying and Children’s Rights

This study may have uncovered a whole new way of looking at the issue of bullying.  It may not be as clearly defined along gender lines as previously thought.  Everyone does agree that relational bullying is still bullying that inflicts serious damage on its targets.  If you suspect the presence of relational bullying, you need to take action.  Speak to people who can help affect positive change to the situation.  If your child suffers serious harm because of relational bullying, seek the advice of the children’s rights lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys.  Contact the firm for a free case evaluation.

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