Mean boys just as common as mean girls

Filed under: Tweens, Teens, In The News

Mean girls... they've earned quite a reputation. They're everywhere, first of all. You can't catch a TV show or movie aimed at tweens or teens without at least one mean girl in the bunch. While we expect boys to act out physically, it doesn't surprise us at all when girls act out socially, through gossip, exclusion, and clique-y behavior, because it's a stereotype that parents and teachers alike seem to accept of the female gender.

But new research reveals that girls aren't the only ones who are capable of being socially aggressive. A review of 148 studies that included 74,000 children revealed that boys are just as likely as girls to partake in this indirect style of aggression. What puts a child at risk for this kind of behavior, they found, is not their gender, but adjustment issues. Kids with ADHD, poor social behavior, and deliquancy were more likely to be physically aggressive, while kids who suffer from depression, low self-esteem, or, surprisingly, high social behavior were more likely to use social bullying techniques.

Social aggression can be just as damaging as physical aggression to kids, so I think these findings are important, especially to parents and teachers of boys, who may not be on the look out for it. I have a friend who's a mom to an 11-year-old boy, and she's commented several times how fluid boys' relationships are, how they become friends and then stop being friends without any drama. "It's so different from how we were at that age," she'll say. We always wondered if it was just a gender issue, but this research makes me wonder if her boy has just found his groove, socially speaking.

What do you think? Will a "Mean Boys" movie be next?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.