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Why the meanest students in class are likely to be boys

Hollywood teen movies' depiction of girls as the meanest sex is often considered a reflection of reality. But a new study has found the opposite to be true: boys, it turns out, can be the worst offenders when it comes to relational aggression. 

The study, cited by Beverley Briggs in the 13 March issue of TES, was conducted by the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health. It has discovered that if you want an expert in relational aggression, you need to be looking for a teenage boy, not girl.

Briggs finds that teachers agree with the study's findings. Emma Blair who teaches at a Glasgow secondary school, says that boys are more likely to express their relational aggression on the playing field.

“Boys use team games to be mean to each other,” she explains. “On the football field they’ll gang up against another student. They’ll avoid passing to a particular kid, making it hard for him to play.”

Unfortunately, although there is lots of help available to teachers dealing with mean girls, Briggs finds there is little assistance for those tackling the issue of mean boys.

“Websites and intervention programmes such as the Ophelia Project and Girlss (Growing Interpersonal Relationships through Learning and Systemic Supports) offer advice on how to deal with female relational aggression. But their male equivalents – “Boyss” or the “Hamlet Initiative” – are conspicuous by their absence,” she writes.

So what can you do? Briggs reveals all in the 13 March issue of TES

Read the full article in 13 March edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagent

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