Multi-pronged intervention strategy aims to tame mean girls

Posted on October 3, 2014

Recent media coverage of this behavior – sometimes known as “mean girl” bullying – has shown that relation aggression can lead to tragic and sometimes fatal outcomes. Relational aggression by adolescent girls can include gossiping, rumor spreading, exclusion, and rejection.

University of Missouri researchers have developed a multi-pronged intervention strategy to decrease relational aggression among teen girls.

The intervention, Growing Interpersonal Relationships through Learning and Systemic Supports (GIRLSS), is a 10-week group counseling, caregiver training and caregiver phone consultation intervention for relationally aggressive middle school girls and their families.

Students, ranging in age from 12 to 15, participated in one 70-minute session per week that included interactive discussions, media-based examples, role-playing, journaling, and weekly goal-setting.

Caregivers of students participated in separate workshops and biweekly phone consultations during which they learned new communication, monitoring, and supervision strategies in addition to appropriate disciplinary responses.

At the end of the intervention, school counselors and teachers reported a decrease in relationally aggressive behaviors among the girls.

This study represents a first step in helping school personnel meet the intervention needs of a diverse group of relationally aggressive girls.

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Source material from University of Missouri