Relational Aggression

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Relational Aggression
School Safety Survey Year 1 Findings
Relational aggression is harming others through purposeful manipulation and damage of their peer relationships (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995, p. 711).
Relational aggression is also known as social aggression and the perpetrators are often called "mean girls."
A survey was conducted of 447 high school students were asked if they had experienced bullying in the form of relational aggression in the past 6 months. 51.5% had been a target of relational aggression and 41.9% had been a perpetrator.   Perpetration and victimization were correlated at r = .50, thus approximately half of those reporting experiencing relational aggression were bully-victims (i.e., both perpetrator and victim).
Victim (51.6%)
Not a Victim (48.4%)
Male Victims
Female Victims
Not Just Mean Girls
Male Perpetrators
Female Perpetrators
Contrary to popular perceptions of relational aggression being "how girls aggress," male and female students were just as likely to report both perpetration and victimization.
Those targeted by relational aggression also experience:
Those engaging in relational aggression also engage in:
Just Relational Aggression?
Thus there was significant overlap with verbal harassment, but otherwise relational aggression can occur independently of other types of victimization and perpetration.
Who Engages in Relational Aggression?
42% experienced relational aggression from more than one perpetrator, typically 2-3.
45% of victims identified their aggressor as someone they had considered a friend.
56% of those victimized felt they were targeted by a group.
62% felt targeted because of a group they belonged to.
51.5% victims & perpetrators belonged to the same social group.
Relational aggression is different from physical or verbal bullying because it often happens within peer groups - even among friends - rather than between groups.
Responses to Relational Aggression
Overall, victims responded more by internalizing (feeling hurt) than externalizing (causing hurt). Those targeted by "friends" were more likely to seek pro-social solutions to bullying (i.e. trying to maintain the friendship) than anti-social. But if the relational aggression occurred between "cliques" instead of within, then retaliation became more likely.
Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J. K. (1995). Relational aggression, gender, and social-psychological adjustment. Child development, 710-722.
Results from Year One of the School Safety Survey conducted by the Social Relations Collaborative at Mississippi State University ( and funded by the National Institute of Justice School Safety Initiative.
Social Relations Collaborative