Volume 96, Issue 61
Friday, January 17, 2003

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Women get on top... of bullying

By Jen Marshall
Gazette Staff

Everyone knows girls can be mean – and a recent study supports this by noting female bullies exist, yet are often overlooked.

According to Tina Daniels, a Carleton University psychology professor and author of the recent study, while only two out of 500 girls are physically aggressive, almost 50 out of 500 are relationally aggressive. This means the bullies victimize girls by gossip, teasing and purposely excluding them from the group with the intention of hurting them, Daniels explained.

"Female bullies have two major goals. One is to make sure that they don't get caught, and the other is to get in with other girls and to become popular," Daniels said, while noting 10 per cent of girls have reported that their best friends have bullied them, which is especially hurtful because the bully has access to intimate knowledge about her victim.

"The main thing is that Statistics Canada says violence in female adolescence is the largest increasing rate [of societal aggression]," said Alan Leschild, professor in Western's faculty of education and author of Research and Treatment for Aggression in Females.

Leschild said that, although the bullying is not physical, the harm is equal in severity, as it gravely affects a girl's self-esteem. The reason girls are relationally aggressive is that females develop social adjustment and mature faster than males, he explained, adding female bullying can sometimes result in suicide.

"I would say that girls have a big potential to be mean-spirited against each other – I'm surprised at the level of cruelty between girls," said Deanna Walker, a first-year science student.

Bullies often manipulate the other girls in the group to turn against the victim as well, Daniels said, adding girls are covert and try hard to maintain good relationships with other girls in the group.

"I would rather have someone just hit me and get it over with," said second-year history student Jenna Gibb.

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