“[A] hidden culture of aggression in girls is now being studied for the first time … around the world … and shows that girls everywhere are motivated to use their closest relationships as weapons, regardless of class, race, or family background” states Paul Kennedy (in: Ringrose, 2006:414) from a pamphlet entitled “It’s a Girls’ World”.
According to Crick and Grotpeter (in: Ringrose, 2006:410) girls are involved in aggressive behaviour which is “done with the intention of damaging another child’s friendship or feelings of inclusion within a social group” and to “thwart or damage goals that are valued by their respective gender peer groups”. Girls in the early adolescent stage are more inclined to make use of relational aggressive behaviour (Leschied, Cummings, Van Brunschot, Cunningham and Saunders, 2001:206) which can possibly harm numerous aspects of the relationships between girls. Hadley (2003:373) confirms that social aggression and meanness are increasing and becoming an unwelcome part of school life.
This is unfortunate because children are in the school environment for approximately twelve years of their lives. For this reason it is important that schools should be “inviting, exciting, and inclusive places where all who enter celebrate individual differences and understand and value all members of the community” (Orpinas, 2006:4).
Young (2002:5) maintains that learners develop positive relationships in healthy schools which influence their personal well-being. A positive school climate enables the child to select friends in a positive manner (Garbarino, 1999:424). Williams, Forgas and Von Hippel (2005:173) further indicate that friendships are important as “forming and
maintaining friendships, is a fundamental part of human nature” and may assist in increasing an adolescent’s self-esteem which is beneficial for future development.
Vanzetti & Duck (1996:16-18) believe that there is an interdependence between adolescents as each adolescent has an effect on the other adolescents with whom he or she comes into contact and is in turn affected by them. Human beings are all involved in relationships which are important as they give one a sense of belonging and acceptance. There is also an emotional integration as one assesses one’s responses to those around one. Having relationships enables one to communicate about oneself as one learns to express oneself and voice one’s opinions. Those in relationships with one give one reassurance as to one’s worth as they show one how much they care and hold one in their esteem. Feeling good about oneself in a relationship assists one in helping others and also supports one’s personality development.
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