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Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2010-05-31.

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021187/00001

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Title: Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2010-05-31.
Physical Description: Book
Language: english
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

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Subjects / Keywords: Counselor Education -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Mental Health Counseling thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Torres-Rivera, Edil.
Electronic Access: INACCESSIBLE UNTIL 2010-05-31

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Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0021187:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021187/00001

Material Information

Title: Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2010-05-31.
Physical Description: Book
Language: english
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Counselor Education -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Mental Health Counseling thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Torres-Rivera, Edil.
Electronic Access: INACCESSIBLE UNTIL 2010-05-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0021187:00001


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1 RELATIONAL AGGRESSION AMONG MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS By APRILLE DALLAPE A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2008

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2 2008 Aprille Dallape

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3 To my grandma and my mom for all the love, support, encouragement, and guidance you have provided along the way. This accomplishment is really yours too and I am grateful to you both for the example you have provided. To the rest of my family for the patience, understanding, and cheerleading you have never ceased to show throughout this journey!

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank the chair and members of my supervisory committee for their mentoring, the staff and members at the UF Libraries for their research a ssistance, the staff and members of the Editorial Office and Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Laborat ory for their guidance and technical assistance, and the schools, teachers, parents, and participants in my surveys for their honest and willing participation. I thank my family and friends for their loving encouragement, which motivated me to complete my study.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........8 ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................9 CHAP TER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................11 Nature and Scope of Aggression............................................................................................11 Incidence of Physical Aggre ssion and Crim inal Behavior.....................................................12 Need for the Study..................................................................................................................14 Purpose of the Study........................................................................................................... ....15 Significance of the Study........................................................................................................16 Operational Definition of Terms............................................................................................17 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................................................................................20 Correlates of Relational Aggression....................................................................................... 20 Individual Correlates of Relational Aggression..................................................................... 21 Loneliness........................................................................................................................22 Depression.......................................................................................................................23 Global Self-worth............................................................................................................24 Learning Difficulties.......................................................................................................24 Poor Academic Achievement.......................................................................................... 25 Social Correlates of Relational Aggression ............................................................................ 25 Relationships with Peers: Peer Status, Peer Preference, and Peer Reputation ................26 Relationships with Family Members............................................................................... 27 Relationships with Teachers............................................................................................ 28 Types of Relational Aggression..............................................................................................30 Verbal Aggression...........................................................................................................32 Withdrawal..................................................................................................................... .35 Relational Aggression and In terpersonal Relationships ......................................................... 39 Individual Correlates of Relational Aggr ession and Interperso nal Relationships .................. 40 Social Correlates of Relational Aggr ession and Interpersonal R elationships........................42 3 METHODOLOGY................................................................................................................. 44 Research Design.....................................................................................................................44 Research Questions............................................................................................................. ....44 Hypotheses..............................................................................................................................45 Participants.............................................................................................................................45 Setting........................................................................................................................ .............46

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6 Materials.................................................................................................................................47 Procedure................................................................................................................................47 Independent Variable..............................................................................................................48 Dependent Variables............................................................................................................ ...48 Instrumentation................................................................................................................ .......48 Direct Indirect Aggression Scales................................................................................... 48 Childrens Social Behavior ScalePeer Report............................................................. 50 Data Collection.......................................................................................................................51 Data Analysis..........................................................................................................................51 Study Assumptions and Limitations.......................................................................................52 4 RESULTS...............................................................................................................................55 Sample Demographics............................................................................................................55 Analysis of Instruments Used in Study.................................................................................. 56 Direct Indirect Aggr ession Scale (DIAS) ............................................................................... 56 Childrens Social Behavior Scale Peer Report (CSBS-P)................................................... 57 Data Analysis..........................................................................................................................57 5 DISCUSSION.........................................................................................................................61 Summary of Study and Major Findings.................................................................................. 61 Age..........................................................................................................................................61 Socioeconomic Status........................................................................................................... ..62 Ethnicity...................................................................................................................... ............62 Age, Socioeconomic Status, and Ethnicity............................................................................. 63 Discussion of Aggression....................................................................................................... 63 Incidence of Physical Aggre ssion and Crim inal Behavior.....................................................66 Need for Future Study.......................................................................................................... ..69 Limitations of the Study....................................................................................................... ..72 Implications for Practice...................................................................................................... ...73 Summary.................................................................................................................................79 APPENDIX A VERBATIM INSTRUCTIONS TO PARTICIPANTS.......................................................... 81 B RELATIONAL AGGRESSION SURVEYMIDDLE SCHOOL......................................... 82 C CHILDRENS SOCIAL BEHAVIOR SCALEPEER REPORT ITEM S............................ 83 D SAMPLE OF ASSENT FORM.............................................................................................. 84 E COVER LETTER TO PARENTS.......................................................................................... 86 F COVER LETTER TO ADMINISTRATORS........................................................................ 88 G COVER LETTER TO TEACHERS....................................................................................... 90

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7 H SAMPLE OF STANDARDIZED SURV EY ADMINISTRATION PROTOCOL ................92 I COMPARISON SCHOOLS...................................................................................................93 REFERENCES..............................................................................................................................95 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................106

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8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 4-1 Participants grade level/age groups..................................................................................55 4-2 Participants ethnic backgrounds.......................................................................................55 4-3 Participants meal stat us/ socioeconom ic status................................................................ 56 4-4 Measurement properties of the DIAS scale....................................................................... 57 4-5 Measurement properties of the CSBS-P scale................................................................... 57 4-6 Three -Way ANOVA for age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity and relational aggression (N=273) ............................................................................................................60 4-7 Tukey HSD comparison for age, socioec onom ic status, and ethnicity and relational aggression (N=273)............................................................................................................60

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9 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy RELATIONAL AGGRESSION AMONG MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS By Aprille Dallape May 2008 Chair: Edil Torres-Rivera Major: Mental Health Counseling The purpose of this study was to examine the correlates that define relational aggression among middle school girls, the relationships amo ng these factors, and th e association between the correlates of relational aggression and the type of relational aggression (e.g., verbal, withdrawal) exhibited among middle school girls. The findings of this study contribute to the theoretical understandin g of relational aggression among mi ddle school girls, suggest evidencebased efficacious interventions, and describe the etiology of internalizing (e.g., individual features: withdrawal, depr ession) and externalizing (e.g., social features: peer relationships, type of aggression exhibited) behavi ors unique to middle school girl s. This study examined the relationship between individual f actors (e.g., withdrawal, depressi on) and social factors (peer relationships) related to relati onal aggression among middle school gi rls. A convenience sample of 273 middle school students was drawn from sim ilarly sized schools in th e southeastern United States. Participants completed a thirty-nine-it em survey, which included the Direct Indirect Aggression Scale, the Childrens Social Behavi or Scale-Peer Report and seven demographic questions. Data were analyzed using chi-square analyses and 3-way ANOVA analyses. Overall, the findings indicated significan t relationships between relational aggression and age, relational aggression and socioeconomic st atus, relational aggr ession and ethnicity, relational aggression

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10 and age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. Th e present study contributes to the theoretical underpinnings of relational aggression in middle school girls by focusing exclusively on this underrepresented population in the literature and posits that de velopmental theories, socialinformation processing, and social-psychologi cal models influen ce the exhibition of externalizing and internalizing behaviors in adolescent girls. Identifying the theoretical foundation for relationally aggres sive behaviors among middle school girls has illuminated appropriate interventions for prof essional counselors to consider in future investigations.

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11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Relational aggression, defined as behaviors that harm others through damage (or threat of damage) to relationships or feelings of accepta nce, friendship, or group inclusion (Crick, 1996, p 77), is of considerable inte rest to researchers (Cillessen & Mayeux, 2004; Cullerton-Sen & Crick, 2005; de los Reyes & Prinstein, 2004; Prin stein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005; Werner & Crick, 2004; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Relational aggression includes such behaviors as excluding the victim from the peer group, gossiping, calling the victim names, threatening, and intentionally manipulating a victims fr iendships (Artz, 1998; Crick, 1996; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Prinstein, Boerge rs, & Vernberg, 2001; ZimmerGembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Researchers have been inves tigating individua l (loneliness, depression, global self worth, le arning difficulties, and poor academic achievement; Prinstein, Boergers, & Vernberg, 2001; Zimmer-Gem beck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005) and social (relationships with family members, teacher s, and peers; Chang, 2003; Meehan, Hughes, & Cavell, 2003; Prinstein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005) corre lates of relational aggr ession to enhance the understanding of the issue. This chapter will introduce the research re lated to relational aggression by addressing a) the nature and sc ope of aggression, b) incidence of physical aggression and criminal behavior c) the need for the study, d) the purpose of the study, and e) the significance of the study. This chapter will c onclude with the operational definition of terms that will be used thr oughout the investigation. Nature and Scope of Aggression Elucidating the distinction be tween overt and relational aggr ession has been a challenge that several researchers have begun to unde rtake (Cillessen & Maye ux, 2004; Crick, 1996; Cullerton-Sen & Crick, 2005; de los Reyes & Pr instein, 2004; Prinstein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005;

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12 Werner & Crick, 2004; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Investigations of overt (i.e., physical fighting) aggression, or bullying, have been more prolific historically than those of relational aggression, a fo rm of bullying that is more common among girls than boys (Crick, 1996). In the past decade, awareness of girls ov ert aggression has risen dramatically, prompted by such media attention as the fa tal beating of a girl by six ot her girls in a school restroom (Smith & Taylor, 2000) and documented by governmen tal agencies (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention [OJJDP]). For example, the rate of girls externalizing behavior increased by 83% between 1988 and 1997, compared to a 39% increase for boys during the same period of time (OJJDP, 2000). Of this increase in ex ternalizing behavior, the number of persondirected, or hostile, crimes committed by girls has increased 155%, which is almost double the rate for boys (OJJDP, 2000). Similarly, there wa s a 54% increase in property-directed, or instrumental, crimes committed by girls, more than five times the rate of increase for boys (OJJDP, 2000). According to national youth risk surveillance data, within a one-year period nearly one in four high-school aged girls were involved in a physical al tercation and within a one-month period an estimated 6% of girls carried a weapon to school (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2002). Yet Prinstein and La Greca (2004) report that there is a stunning lack of research focused solely on the aggressive behavi or of girls, since several of the studies (e.g., Coie, Dodge, & Kupersmidt, 1990; Werner & Crick, 2004; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005) include both boys and girls in the sa mple and many studies (e.g., Cillessen, van Ijzendoorn, van Lieshout, & Hartup, 1992; Dishion, Capaldi, & Youerger, 1999; Haselager, Cillessen, van Lieshout, Riksen-Walraven, & Hartup, 2002) have only males in the sample. Incidence of Physical Aggre ssion and Criminal Behavior Along with rising rates of externalizing be havior among girls, research is revealing considerable evidence connecting relational aggression (e.g., lyi ng, gossiping) in girls (Keenan,

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13 Loeber, & Green, 1999; Prinstein & La Greca, 2004). Several investigations and governmental statistics illustrate the need for an examination of the individual and social correlates of relational aggression and the types of aggression (e.g., ve rbal, withdrawal, rela tional) exhibited among girls (CDC, 2002; OJJDP, 2000; Prin stein & La Greca, 2004). It is important to distinguish between verbal aggression, withdrawal, and relationa l aggression so that the extent to which each of these features contributes to the development or maintenance of relational aggression can be ascertained. It is equally important to distinguish the externalizing behavior of girls from that of boys. The externalizing behavior s exhibited by girls ar e distinct from those exhibited by boys (Crick, 1996; Prinstein & La Greca, 2004). In terms of overt aggression (e.g., hitting, pushing, kicking), boys demonstrate greater levels than girls (Crick, 1996; Prinstein & La Greca, 2004). In contrast, girls are more likely to engage in relational aggression, such as excluding the victim from the peer group, lying, spreading rumors, or gossiping (Crick, 1996; Prinstein & La Greca, 2004). Thus, it is not surprising that the externalizing behavior s exhibited by ea rly adolescent girls may have far-reaching consequences (i.e., impact their academic performance and social psychological adjustment) (Masten, 2005). Middle school girls involved in relational aggression (i.e., victim or aggressor) may be at risk for learning difficulties, low academic performance, or negative emotional adjustment (e .g., loneliness, depression, withdrawal) that is influenced by the peer group (Masten, 2005). Relationships with peers, teachers, and parents may impact the development and maintenance of relationa l aggression (Chang, 2003; Meehan, Hughes, & Cavell, 2003; Prinstein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005). Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, and sterman (1992) reported that verbal aggression and withdrawal are associated with relational aggression among children and adolescents. These features may l ead to negative consequences for girls (e.g., low grades, poor social-psychological adjustment) (P rinstein & La Greca, 2004). To summarize,

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14 girls are just as likely as boys to demonstrate multiple problem behaviors, such as engaging in aggressive and criminal behaviors (Prinstein & La Greca, 2004). Clearly, relational aggression among girls is a problem that need s to be investigated. The relationship between bullying and re lational aggression must be expl icated so that professionals understand the unique correlates (e .g., individual and social) of relational aggression among middle school girls, how the correlates of relational aggression interact with one another (i.e., how self worth interact s with peer relationships), and th e impact relational aggression has upon middle school girls. This may lead to understanding the differences between relational aggression among elementary, middle, and high sc hool girls and assist counselors with the implementation of an efficac ious intervention program (e.g., Olweus Bullying Prevention Program [OBPP]) that has demonstrated improveme nts of such behavior (e.g., excluding peers, lying, gossiping). Need for the Study The im portance of developing positive interpers onal skills is considered essential to our society (Werner & Crick, 2004). Prior studies (Coie, Dodge, & Kupersmidt, 1990; ZimmerGembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005) have examined the role of individual and social correlates of relational aggression among girls, but none were found at the time of this investigation that focused solely on middle school girls. Recent re search, described in th e introduction, shows that relational aggression appears to be increasing among middle school age students (ZimmerGembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). This trend, as a social observation, is alarming and suggests the need for the studies aimed at identifying th e etiology of relational aggression and treatment that will ameliorate this type of maladaptiv e behavior (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). Such research has implications for guiding successful social adjustment among middle school girls and training programs for counselors.

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15 Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to examine the correlates that define relational aggression am ong middle school girls, the re lationship among these factors, and the association between the correlates of relational aggression and the type of relational aggr ession (e.g., verbal, withdrawal) exhibited among middle school girls. The findings of this study will contribu te to the theoretical understanding of relational a ggression among middle school girl s, suggest evidence-based efficacious interventions, and describe the etiolo gy of internalizing (e .g., individual features: withdrawal, depression) and exte rnalizing (e.g., social features: peer relationships, type of aggression exhibited) behaviors unique to middle school girls. This study will examine the relationship between individual f actors (e.g., withdrawal, depressi on) and social factors (peer relationships) related to relational aggression among middle school girls. This study will also discuss the implications for counselor s. The research questions to be investigated include (1) is age related to relational aggressi on scores (i.e., composite of ve rbal aggression and withdrawal subscales) as measured by the Direct Indirect A ggression Scales [DIAS] (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the Childrens Social Be havior Scale-Peer Re port [CSBS-P] (Crick, 1997), (2) is socioeconomic status related to relationa l aggression scores (i.e., composite of verbal aggression and withdrawal subscales) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997), (3) is there a significant difference in ethnicity and relational aggression scores (i.e., composite of verbal aggression and withdrawal subscales) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBSP (Crick, 1997), and (4) is there a significant difference in the relati onal aggression subscales (e.g., verbal aggression and withdr awal) between age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997). The expected outcomes for this study in clude an explication of the unique factors

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16 associated with relational aggression among midd le school girls, the relationship among those factors, and the relationship be tween the features of relational aggression and the type of aggression exhibited among middle sc hool girls. Questions one thr ough four will be investigated using the Direct Indirect Aggr ession Scales [DIAS] (Bjrkqvist Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the Childrens Social Behavior ScalePeer Report [CSBS-P] (Cri ck, 1997). Descriptive statistics will be reported, along with Pearson correlations and multiple regression analyses to ascertain relationships among the predictor variables. Significance of the Study The present study contributes to the theoretical underp innings of relational aggression in m iddle school girls by focusing exclusively on this underrepresented populati on in the literature and posits that developmental theories, social -information processing, and social-psychological models influence the exhibition of externalizing a nd internalizing behaviors in adolescent girls. This study will extend the findings in previous investigations through the incorporation of developmental and social-psychological theories in an investigation th at targets middle school girls. Identifying the theore tical foundation for relationally aggressive behaviors among middle school girls may illuminate appropriate interventi ons for professional counselors to consider. Implications for further research will be outlined as a result of examining the correlates of relational aggression specifically with middle school girls. Researchers (Margolin, 2001; Prinstein & La Greca, 2004) have examined the role of peer acceptance and rejection in predicting external izing behavior among adolescents. This body of research explores the development of aggression, the nature of interpersonal relationships as moderating or exacerbating behavior, and investigates the role of preventive interventions across developmental stages (Prinstein & La Greca, 200 4). Other researchers (Dodge, Lansford, Burks, Bates, Pettit, Fontaine, & Price, 2003) have exam ined the role of social-information processing

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17 and social-psychological theories related to relational aggression. This line of inquiry examines the nature of peer relations hips and individual attributi ons to ambiguous and non-ambiguous social interactions (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005; Dodge, et al., 2003; Masten, 2005). For example, peer relationships can ameliora te or exacerbate the impact of relationally aggressive behaviors according to whether the relationship is positive (i.e., assisting a new student in the transition to sc hool, protecting targets of aggres sion, decreasing the likelihood of externalizing behavior) or negati ve (i.e., reinforcing health risk behaviors through peer pressure, highlighting the effects of adverse parenting styl es) and the context in which situations occur (Masten, 2005). In terms of attributing hostile or friendly intent to peers in ambiguous situations, whether the individual is rejected by the peer group plays a critical role (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005; Dodge, et al., 2003). Still othe r researchers (Cairns, Xie, & Leung, 1998; Cillessen & Bukowski, 2000) have investigated the ro le of reputation or social power with regard to relational aggression. To illustrate, the so cial power an individual possesses may indicate collective conflict between girl and boy cultures, deve lopmental risk factors under certain conditions (e.g., exposure to community or family violence), or the ine quitable distribution of power between bullies and victims and accepted ve rsus rejected children (Cairns, Xie, & Leung, 1998; Cillessen & Bukowski, 2000; Rodkin, et. al, 2003) A review of the li terature will address the individual features (e.g., withdrawal, depression) of relational aggression, the social features (e.g., peer relationships) of re lational aggression, and the association between the type (e.g., verbal, physical, withdrawal) of relational aggression exhibited and the features of relational aggression among middle school girls. Operational Definition of Terms Academic P erformance refers to a girls actual pe rformance (e.g., grades) in each course during the current academic year.

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18 Age refers to the chronological length of tim e a person has lived. This study focuses on middle school children, ages eleven through fifteen. At-Risk refers to behaviors (e.g., substance use, early sexual activity) or attitudes (e.g., school is not important), which may lead to a potentially negative outcome for an individual. For the purpose of the pres ent investigation, at-risk may be used interchangeably with high risk behavior; it is similar to the term health risk behaviors. Bullying refers to repeated negative actions toward a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself and may involve the use of physical or relational aggression. Childrens Social Behavior ScalePeer Report [CSBS-P] a fourteen-item instrument designed to measure physical a ggression, relational aggressi on, and prosocial behavior (Crick, 1997). Composite Score refers to the physical aggression, verbal aggression, and withdrawal subscales as measured by the Direct Indire ct Aggression Scales [DIAS] (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the Childre ns Social Behavior ScalePeer Report [CSBS-P] (Crick, 1997). For the purposes of the current study, composite scores for each instrument will be reported, as well as scor es for each subscale (e.g., physical aggression, verbal aggression, and withdrawal). Depression refers to a girls feel ings of sadness or helplessness to change the peer group situation. Direct Indirect Aggression Scales [DIAS] a twenty four-item in strument designed to measure three types of aggressi on: physical, verbal, and indi rect, as well as withdrawal (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992). Ethnicity refers to a population whose members id entify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common ancestry; the concept of ethnicity is rooted in the idea of social groups, m arked especially by shared nationality, tribal affiliation, genealogy, religious faith, language, or cultural and traditional origins (Smith, 1986). For the purposes of this study, the following ethnic categories will be used: Caucasian, African Am erican, Asian American, Hispanic, and Native American. Exclusion from the Peer Group refers to a girls actions or verbalizations, directly relayed to the target girl or indirectly planned without the ta rget girls awareness, that serve to isolate a target girl fr om the typical group of friends. Externalizing Symptoms refers to the outward acts of socially victimizing (e.g., excluding, gossiping, name-calling, lying, spreadi ng rumors, threatening) a target girl. For the purposes of this study, externalizing symptoms and social factors (e.g., peer relationships) will be used concurrently.

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19 Global Self-worth refers to the overall self -esteem or opinion of ones self a girl believes is true and accurately represen ts the person she is. For the purpose of this study, the term global self-worth is synonymous with the term self-worth. Gossip refers to the deliberate spreading of rumors, regardless of th eir truthfulness, to harm a girls self-esteem or friendships. Health Risk Behaviors refers to early sexual activity or substance use; for the purposes of this study, the terms health risk be havior and risk factors may be used interchangeably; it is similar to the term at-risk. Individual Correlates refers to internal factors of a ta rget girl that may contribute to relational aggression (e .g., loneliness, depression, global self-worth, learning difficulties, and poor academic achievement). For the purpo ses of this study, individual correlates and internalizing symptoms (e.g., withdrawal depression) will be used concurrently. Internalizing Symptoms refers to the feelings of depression, loneliness, and poor selfworth a girl experiences as a result of social victimization. For the purposes of this study, internalizing symptoms and individual featur es/ individual correlat es/ individual factors (e.g., withdrawal, depression) will be used synonymously. Learning Difficulties refers to problems a girl expe riences academically due to the stressors of social relationships. Loneliness refers to a girls feelings of isol ation or exclusion from the peer group. Name-calling refers to intentionally cal ling a girl names to hurt the target girls feelings. Relational aggression refers to behaviors that harm ot hers through damage or threat of damage to relationships or feelings of acceptance, friendship, or group inclusion (e.g., intentional manipulation of friendships that excludes part icular girls from activities, gossips, threatens, or intimidates a target girl). Social Correlates refers to external factors, such as interpersonal relationships (e.g., family, teachers, peers), that may contribute to relational aggression. For the purposes of this study, externalizing symptoms and social correlates/social feat ures/ social factors (e.g., peer relationships) will be used synonymously. Social-psychological Adjustment refers to the level of adaptability a girl demonstrates (as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lage rspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) when assuming developmentally appropriate tasks while in middle school). Socioeconomic Status refers to a ch ilds familys income as compared to the state of Floridas median income (US Census, 2000). Each participants socioeconomic status will be categorized by the free/ reduced lunch indicated in school records.

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20 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW The purpose of this study is to examine th e influence of two va riables (e.g., verbal aggression and withdrawal) that define relational aggression among middle school girls, the relationship among these factors, and the associat ion between the factors of relational aggression and the type of relational aggression (e.g., ve rbal, withdrawal) exhibited among middle school girls. The purpose of this chapter is to present an overview of the research relevant to this study. An overview of research studies concerning the following topics will be presented: (a) correlates of relational aggression (i.e., in dividual: loneliness, depressi on, global self worth, learning difficulties, poor academic achievement; social: rela tionships with family, teachers, and peers) features of relational aggressi on, (b) type (e.g., verbal, withdrawal) of relational aggression exhibited, (c) relational aggressi on and interpersonal re lationships, and d) theoretical foundation and emerging trends in relati onal aggression inquiry. This chapter will conclude with a summary. Correlates of Relational Aggression Relational aggression involves behaviors such as excluding th e victim from the peer group, gossiping, calling the victim names, threateni ng, and intentionally ma nipulating a victims friendships (Artz, 1998; Cric k, 1996; Crick & Grotpeter, 199 5; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Prinstein, Boergers, & Vernbe rg, 2001; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). A brief review of the individual and social correlates of relational aggressi on that have been examined in previous studies will be pres ented as a foundation for conceptu alizing relational aggression and substantiate the need for the present study. Individual factors, such as loneliness, depression, global self-worth, learning difficulties, and poor academic achievement have previously been investigated based upon theory, empirical evidence, and to clarify the role of each in relational

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21 aggression among children and adolescents (Pri nstein, Boergers, & Vernberg, 2001; ZimmerGembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Soci al factors, such as interperso nal relationships with family members, teachers, and peers have been examin ed for their contribution to the relationally aggressive behaviors exhibite d among children and adolescents (Chang, 2003; Meehan, Hughes, & Cavell, 2003; Prinstein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005). Therefore, each of these features will be discussed briefly to highlight their influence on the developm ent and/ or maintenance of relational aggression and to eluc idate the connection between the types (e.g., verbal, withdrawal) of relational aggression exhibi ted by middle school girls. Although individual (e.g., loneli ness, depression) and soci al correlates (e.g., peer relationships) are not the focus of the present st udy, they represent the pr evious investigations that established the theoreti cal and conceptual framework the current study is based upon (Cillessen & Mayeux, 2004; Cullerton-Sen & Crick, 2005; de los Re yes & Prinstein, 2004; Prinstein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005; Werner & Crick, 2004; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Initial conceptualizations of aggressive girls portrayed i ndividual and family dysfunction as an explanation for such uncharacteristic be havior (Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). As relational aggression studies began to focus on girls, alternative theoretical perspectives emerged. Less pathological perspectives of re lational aggression, such as social-psychological adjustment (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Prinstein, Boergers, & Vernberg, 2001) and developmental models (Chang et. al, 2005) have been posited. Individual and social co rrelates of relational aggression will be examined, followed by a review of the literature related to the type of relational aggression exhibited among middle school girls. Individual Correlates of Relation al Aggression Historically, researchers have examined ove rt physical aggression without attending to gender differences in the presentation of aggr essive behavior (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995).

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22 Investigations of individual behaviors and peer status found peer rejectio n to be a correlate of physical aggression, especially occurring among males (Bierman & Wargo, 1995; Cillessen, van Ijzendoorn, van Lieshout, & Hartup, 1992). Further, researchers found physical aggression to be more common among males when compared to females as early as age four (Hood, 1996). Several studies have excluded girls and focu sed solely on boys (Bierman & Wargo, 1995; Cillessen, van Ijzendoorn, van Lieshout, & Hartup, 1992). An exclusive focus on physical forms of aggression, and an exclusion of girls from res earch investigations, has re sulted in a dearth of knowledge regarding the difficulties girls encoun ter with peers (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Combined with the studies that found nearly half of boys who are socially rejected do not exhibit overt physical aggression (Bierman & Wargo, 1995; French, 1988), and that the correlation between peer rejection and overt aggression decreases as children transition from elementary to middle school (Franzoi, Davis, & VasquezSuson, 1994), researchers began to examine altern ative explanations related to developmental difficulties negotiating peer groups (Z immer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Loneliness Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, and Crick (2005) ha ve reported that the transition from elementary school into middle school represents developmental challenges (e.g., simultaneous changes in the cognitive, social, and biological characteristics), for some children that results in loneliness, depression, decreased self-esteem poor academic achievement, and learning difficulties. These internalizing symptoms can lead to emotional maladjustment that may be a precursor for mental health problems (e.g., de pression) and criminality (e.g., instrumental aggression that is directed toward obtaining an obj ect, hostile aggression that is directed toward a person and designed to inflict harm) in adoles cence and adulthood (Coie, Dodge, & Kupersmidt, 1990; Parker & Asher, 1987; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). To illustrate, victims

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23 of relational aggression exhibit higher levels of loneliness, social anxiety, and depression (Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Prinst ein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005). However, these behaviors can be mediated by peer relationships, which adol escents rely heavily upon for support (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Grotpeter & Cr ick, 1996; Masten, 2005; Prinstein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Cr ick, 2005). Feelings of loneliness may foreshadow the development of depression among victims of relational ag gression (Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Prinstein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005). Depression Depression has been singled out by researchers (Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Hankin & Abram son, 2001; Nolen-Hoeksema, 2001; Prinstein & Aikins, 2004; Prinstein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005; Rudolph & Asher, 2000; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005) as specifically impacting girls to a greater extent than boys when relational aggression is involved. This may be due, in part, to developmental differences betwee n adolescent males and females. Engaging in relationally aggressive beha viors has been shown to improve the social status of adolescent girls, but has not demonstrated increa sed social status among adoles cent boys (Adler & Adler, 1995; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). For exam ple, adolescent girls have been found to utilize relationally aggressive be haviors as a tactic to gain an d maintain friendships (Adler & Adler, 1995; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005) In contrast, girls who are victims of relational aggression tend to be more isolated from the peer group, experience more social dislike from their peers, and consequently tend to withdraw from the peer group (Caldwell, Rudolph, Troop-Gordon, & Kim, 2004; Zimmer-G embeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). This combination of isolation, withdraw al, and peer rejection may lead to negative feelings of selfworth.

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24 Global Self-worth Early adolescent girls self-esteem is derived in large part from relationships with peers (Harter, 1999; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Views of oneself in early adolescence can be enhanced in the context of positive peer relationships (Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005) or diminished in the context of negative peer relations hips (Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Additionall y, girls engaging in relationally aggressive behaviors have been found to value maintaining relationships (Crick, 1995). The inability to maintain a friendship may have a negative impact on girls who engage in relationally aggressive behaviors, which may lead to a decreased view of onese lf (Grotpeter & Crick, 1996). Furthermore, Underwood (1999) reported that although girls and boys felt wors e about themselves following incidences of physical aggression, girls reported feeling more hurt by incidences of relational aggression than boys. Additionally, girls reported negative feelings of self-worth based upon the frequency of relationally aggres sive incidences they experienced more than boys (Underwood, 1999). These findings indicate that the negative effects of relational aggression may be more pronounced for girls, even though both boys and gi rls experience relationa l aggression (Merrell, Buchanan, & Tran, 2006). This decreased self-worth may also contribute to learning difficulties for relationally aggressive girls. Learning Difficulties Victim s of relational aggression receive di fferent opportunities to learn interpersonal relationship skills, social, and emotional skills. Peer groups provide the benefit of practice and positive social skills (Cillessen, Bukowski, & Haselager, 2000; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). This differential learning opportun ity can lead to individual maladjustment (Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). In contrast, positive p eer relationships enhance the learning experience for socially appropriate skil ls such as conflict resolution and prosocial

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25 behaviors (e.g., offering assistan ce to others) (Zimmer-Gembeck, Ge iger, & Crick, 2005). Poor academic achievement may result from learning difficulties for both victims of relational aggression and girls exhibiting relati onally aggressive behaviors. Poor Academic Achievement Girls who are victim s of rela tional aggression are at a gr eater risk for poor academic achievement (Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Kupersmidt and Coie (1990) examined school functioning in terms of school grad es and number of absences with respect to individual adjustment. The findings of this study indicated that peer-rejected adolescents are at greater risk for subsequent nonspecific, multip le difficulties (e.g., school dropout, truancy, police contact) and/or adjustment disorders (Kupersmidt & Coie, 1990). The positive, prosocial relationships with peers (e.g., pr otective factor) as opposed to negative peer relationships (e.g., risk factor) may influence healthy social-psych ological adjustment during this developmental phase, allowing adolescents to spend more class ti me learning the material instead of focusing on relational aggression (C illessen, Bukowski, & Haselager, 2000; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). The additional time devoted to l earning may positively impact girls academic achievement, while the decline in time spent en gaged in relationally aggressive behaviors (e.g., gossiping, lying, excluding others ) may improve girls relations hips with their peers. Social Correlates of Relational Aggression Developm ental models assist researchers in dete rmining the nature of peer relationships in terms of influencing adolescent behavioral a nd emotional adjustment (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Masten, 2005). The emergence of developmental deficiencies in adolescence can be investigated using devel opmental theories as an integrat ive framework to determine the level of adaptation and peer relationships over the course of development (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Bukowski, 2005; Cicchetti & Bukowski, 1995; Mast en, 2005). To illustrate,

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26 peers can influence adolescents positively and ne gatively as developmental tasks or stages are negotiated. Therefore, complex interactions between peer, family, and school relationships impact an adolescents adaptation and social-psy chological adjustment (Masten, 2005). Poor relationships with peers often become a source of maladjustment for adolescents, representing relational stress (Ladd & Troop-Gordon, 2003) a nd are demonstrated by relational aggression and peer victimization (Prinstein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005). Relationships with Peers: Peer Status, Peer Preference, and Peer Reputation Researchers have repo rted that in adolescence, relational aggression is related to higher peer status in some peer groups (Salmivalli, Kaukiainen, & Lagerspetz, 2000; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). This finding supports the c ontention that re lation aggression is utilized as a means of gaining and ma intaining friendships (Adler & Adler, 1995, Pellegrini, 1995; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Card, H odges, Little, and Hawley (2005) examined aspects of the Social Relations Model (e.g., actor and partner variance, group means, and generalized and dyadic reciproc ity) in order to gain a deep er understanding of children's interpersonal perceptions of each construct. The researchers investigated four facets of social status: peer influence, victimi zation, perceived popularity, and so cial preference (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005). Findings indicated that children exhibiting relationally aggressive behaviors perceived their friendships to be characterized by re lationally aggressive patterns (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005). There wa s a high level of consensus among girls as to which children were popular or not, and there we re greater levels of same-gender than crossgender nominations of positive (i.e., social prefer ence) and negative (i.e., victimization) facets of social status (Card, Hodges, Li ttle, & Hawley, 2005). By inten tionally manipulating friendships, early adolescent girls also infl uence peer preferences and vic tims reputations (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005).

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27 Peer relationships serve to enhance or decrease life experiences of adolescents, impact the way adolescents behave in various situations, and mediate interactions between an adolescents developmental level and their unique experiences (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Masten, 2005). For example, peer relationships serve to encourage protection from bullies (Hodges, Boivin, Vitaro, & Bukowski, 1999), positive adjust ment to deleterious life experiences (Dubow & Tisak, 1989), or attenuate ex ternalizing symptoms due to negative family circumstances (Criss, Pettit, Bates, Dodge, & Lapp, 2002). Conversely, peer re lationships may also increase the negative impact of delete rious family circumstances, individual experiences, and developmental challenges (Lansford, Criss, Pe ttit, Dodge, & Bates, 2003) or intensify one anothers symptoms through reinforcement a nd continuous rumination (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Dishion, Nelson, & Yasui, 2005; Rose, 2002; Masten, 2005). Relationships with family members will be discussed next. Relationships with Family Members Specific research investigations focusing on relational aggression in middle school girls and relationships with family members were not found at the time of this review of the literature. However, Olweus (2003) discussed the important role of relevant adults in terms of the extent to which bullying and relational aggression are manifested. Olweus (2003) proposes an intervention program created from evidence-based re search related to aggre ssive behavior. This program is based upon creating a home and school environment that is characterized by positive interest, warmth, and involvement from adults teaching and setting firm limits regarding acceptable and unacceptable behavior, consistently enforcing non-physical sanctions for breaking limits, and having adults that serve as positive role models and authority figures (Olweus, 2003). Olweus (2003) maintains that restructuring a non-a ggressive environment requires the active and continuous part icipation of parents, teachers, administrators, and students.

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28 Although not specifically focused upon middle school girls, Cournoyer (2000) investigated parental warmth with regard to pos itive social and cognitive behaviors of children. The findings of Cournoyer's (2000) study supported broad-based positive effects of parental warmth for children's cognitive and social behaviors. Adolescents who experience parental warmth may have improved feelings of self-wor th, which may reduce the incidence of relational aggression. Teacher warmth may also serve as a protective factor for adolescents. Relationships with Teachers Teacher warmth is a related, though less extensiv ely studied, variable in investigations of relational aggression among middle sc hool girls. Teacher warmth appears to have a comparable, overarching positive influence on children's social and cognitive behaviors as does involvement with a caring, supportive adu lt (Brody, Dorsey, Forehand, & Armistead, 2002; Chang, 2003). Three lines of inquiry regarding teacher warmth will be discussed: teacher-student relationships, school climate, and teacher attitudes, belie fs, and behaviors in the classroom. Teacher warmth was demonstrated through te acher-student relationships and teacher behaviors that exhibit a supportive, caring, and pe rsonal relationship with individual students (Chang, 2003). Researchers who focused on adol escents reported that teacher warmth and support were related to positive student adjust ment and prosocial behaviors (Chang, 2003), academic motivation (Chang, 2003), and social self-concept (Chang, 2003). Furthermore, teacher warmth affected the students transition from elementary to middle school (Brody, et al., 2002; Wentzel, 2002). Teacher-student relationship s also have a deep impact upon the schools climate, which will be addressed next. The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP; Olweus & Limber, 1999; Olweus, 2001) examined the impact of environmental factor s, such as teachers and school administrators, on teachers attitudes about bullyi ng and school climate. Specifically, Olweus (2003) posits that

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29 the attitudes, routines, and behavior of important adults dete rmine in large part whether bullying and relational aggression are acceptable in the classroom. Olweus (2003) proposes that teachers who receive training in the OBPP, in combination with the maintenance of a warm, positive involvement with students that establishes limits and consequences, demonstrate significant improvement in the social climate of the cl assroom. This improvement in the learning environment is attained as teachers become aware of the issue of bullying and relational aggression, school administrators provide support in combating th is issue, the teacher conducts regular meetings with students and parents, and the teacher develops and enforces classroom rules, individual intervention plans, and acts as a positive role model (Olweus, 2003). The OBPP has demonstrated significant results in an elem entary school using a sample of boys and girls (Olweus, 1991; Ortega & Lera, 2000; Salm ivalli, Kaukiainen, Voeten, 2005). Examining teachers attitudes toward the school climate is one facet of social co rrelates of relational aggression; teachers beli efs and behaviors will be discussed next. Chang (2003) examined teachers' beliefs and behaviors in the classroom, which were expected to define the cultural context of the cla ssroom and directly influe nce the expectations of the classroom setting. In particular, Chang (2003) focused on teach ers' beliefs about withdrawn and aggressive student behavior and teachers' behaviors in terms of caring and support offered to students. Chang (2003) operated under the theo retical model of social context to examine teachers as socializing agents, with a great deal of influence over st udent behaviors as a result of teachers' interpretations of institutional values, soci etal norms, and cultural expectations. In this manner, teachers as individuals vary in their interpretation of such cultural values and in their tolerance of students' deviati on from the expected and explic it classroom rules (Chang, 2003). Such variation in teachers' attitudes and impl ementation of classroom norms influences the

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30 degree to which students assess one another's pe er status and reputati ons (Chang, 2003). Thus, an individual student's peer status may vary acco rding to types of behavi ors approved of by other students as well as according to the teacher's preference of certain behaviors (Chang, 2003). Teacher-student relationships, school climate, a nd teacher attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are important components of interpersonal relationships middle sc hool girls experience and each impacts the adjustment of middle school girls as they transition from elementary to middle school. A discussion of the type (e.g., verbal, withdrawal) of relational aggression, as well as a brief summary, follows. Types of Relational Aggression Although researchers have examined physical aggression (Olweus, 1999, 2001, 2003; Salmivalli, Kaukiainen, & Lagerspetz, 2000), an d relational aggression (Crick, 1996; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005) among males and females, studies conducted solely on relational aggression among mi ddle school girls were not found at the time of this review. This is an important area of investigation, as many maladaptive emotional and behavioral symptoms may be ameliorated with a deeper understanding of the processes involved in early adolescent female relationships (Rubi n, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006; Werner & Crick, 2004). The pres ent study focuses on middle school girls and the factors of relational aggression that exist during this specific developmental period of time. The lack of available investigations into this particular area necessitated the use of studies (Crothers, Field, & Kolbert, 2005; Prinstein & LaGreca, 2004; Remillard & Lamb, 2005) with older girls (i.e., high school) as the foundation fro m which to derive the research questions and hypotheses, as well as the indivi dual and social correlates of relational aggression that are specifically related to middle school girls.

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31 Relational aggression may be less physical and le ss visible to teachers, parents, and others outside of the peer group than overt forms of aggression, it can be equally damaging (Crick, 1996; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Merrell, Buchano n, & Tran, 2006). Cric k (1996) and Crick and Grotpeter (1995) reported that relationally aggressive childre n may have higher levels of internalizing behaviors (e.g., wit hdrawal, loneliness, depression) than non-relationally aggressive peers and are at serious risk for adjustment difficulties (e.g., relationships with peers). Researchers (Crick, 1996, 1997; Crick & Bigb ee, 1998; Crick, Casas, & Ku, 1999) have studied the associations between psychological adjustment and non-physical or non-verbal forms of victimization. This research has demonstrated the importance of examining the types of aggression (e.g., relational and overt) and victim ization exhibited by ch ildren and adolescents (Dill, Vernberg, Fonagy, Tremlow, & Gamm, 2004). This line of inquiry focuses on relational aggression, which harms an indivi duals social relati onships and reputation through rumors and other forms of ostracism (Crick, 1996, 1997; Cr ick & Bigbee, 1998; Crick, Casas, & Ku, 1999; Dill, Vernberg, Fonagy, Tremlow, & Gamm, 2004) In samples of elementary school children, relational victimization has been associated with internalizin g problems (e.g., loneliness) and interpersonal maladjustment (e.g., depression) after controlling for the effects of overt aggression (Crick et al., 1999; Crick & Bigbee, 1998; Cr ick & Grotpeter, 1996). Additionally, relational victimization was significantly re lated to the presence of intern alizing distress (e.g., depression, low self-esteem) for adolescent boys and girls, after controlling for the effects of overt aggression (Prinstein, Boergers, & Vernberg, 2001). Adolescents who are victimized by their pe ers may adopt a self-blaming attitude, or attribute blame to their own behavior, which may lead to an experience of internalizing distress (Dill, Vernberg, Fonagy, Tremlow, & Ga mm, 2004; Graham & Juvonen, 1998, 2001). An

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32 investigation of middle school st udents who reported being vict imized by their peers and who attributed their mistreatment to internal (e.g., th eir own personal character istics led to peers mistreatment), uncontrollable (e.g., the adolesce nt was unable to control the peer group or situation), and stable causes (e.g., unchangeable characteristics of the victimized individual), reported increased adjustment problems such as depression (Graham & Juvonen, 1998). Thus, there is evidence that self-blaming attributions mediate the relationshi p between victimization and internalizing difficulties (Dill, Vernbe rg, Fonagy, Tremlow, & Gamm, 2004; Graham & Juvonen, 1998, 2001). Social information processing theory provides one e xplanation for this association. According to the social information processi ng theory, children develop their self-and interpersonal schemata based on their social inte ractions; these schemata influence a variety of aspects regarding social information processing, such as the interpretation of and response to interpersonal events like forming and maintaining friendships, the attitude s and attributions of peers, and learning prosocial skills (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Masten, 2005; Prinstein, Cheah, & Guye r, 2005; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). To illustrate, if an adolescent is repeated ly victimized by peers and consequently develops an interpersonal schema that aggression is acceptable when imposed upon peers who deserve punishment, then he/she may be expected to resp ond to such interpersonal events with selfdeprecating messages, which further contribute to the development of negative affect (Dill, Vernberg, Fonagy, Tremlow, & Gamm, 2004). Verbal Aggression Tapper and Boulton (2004) define verbal aggression as behavior th at is directed toward a victim by the aggressor while the victim is within hearing distance or behavior that is directed at a child other than the victim but the victim is within hearing distance (e .g., Suzie tells Katie in a

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33 loud voice Joy is ugly while Joy is sitting next to Katie). Tapper and Boulton (2004) define direct verbal aggression as an utterance directed toward the victim that includes either naming/calling the victim an unpleasant term or desc ribing the victim or the victims family in an unpleasant manner. The term unpleasant, as mentioned above, is defined by the meaning of the word or words used (e.g., words that typically have negative connotations, for example slut, stupid, wuss), unless the ex act meaning of the word or word s is unknown (e.g., odis) or is technically descriptive (e.g., gay, girl), wherein the te rm unpleasant is defined by the aggressors use of heavy emphasis on the word (T apper & Boulton, 2004). Utterances that are part of an ongoing sequence, in such cases as the original victim re states that the name he or she has just been called, or the insult he or she has just received, and then applies the same name to the original aggressor (e.g., Child A: youre stupid; Child B: Im rubber and youre gluewhatever you say bounces off me an d sticks to you) ar e also classified by Tapper and Boulton (2004) as instances of direct ve rbal aggression. Tapper and Boult on (2004) are careful, however, to exclude instances of abuse from the definition of direct verbal aggression by defining abuse as any of the following behaviors: an abusive ge sture (e.g., sticking ones middle finger up at another person), an abusive command (e.g., piss off), or making a rude face (e.g., sticking ones tongue out at another person). Longitudinal investigations have demonstrat ed that physical aggr ession during childhood is the strongest, most robust risk factor fo r delinquency, substance abuse, and crime in adolescence and adulthood (Patterson, Capa ldi, & Bank, 1991; Werner & Crick, 2004). Relational aggression has recently been implicated as a risk factor for future aggression and other types of antisocial behavior during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood (Crick, Werner, Casas, OBrien, Nelson, Grotpeter, & Markon, 1999; Werner & Crick, 2004). This intimation is

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34 based on research that demonstrat es intraindividual differences in relational aggression during middle childhood (i.e., second through fourth grade) are moderately stable and comparable to those of physical aggression after six-month, one -year, and three-year intervals (Crick, 1996; Werner & Crick, 2004; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger & Crick, 2002). Another investigation provided evidence that relationally aggressive children became increasingly delinquent between the third and fourth grades (Crick, Ostrov, & Werner, 2004). Although research on relational aggression is still developing, the features of relational aggression that serve as risk factors for deteriorating behavior problems have begun to be examined (Werner & Crick, 2004). For example, there are several lines of research that investigate the theore tical foundations of relational and physical aggression and offer empirical evidence re garding the extent to which changes in the level of aggressi on are associated with maladap tive friendships (Werner & Crick, 2004). Social information processing theory emphasizes the role of attribution and the peer group in socializing children into aggr essive behavior as children develop their self-and interpersonal schemata based on their social interactions; th ese schemata influence a variety of aspects regarding social information processing, such as the interp retation of and response to interpersonal events like forming and maintaining friendships, the attitude s and attributions of peers, and learning prosocial or aggressive response sets (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Masten, 2005; Prinst ein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). This line of inquiry focu ses specifically on the nature of childrens friendships, such as the degree of affiliation wi th conventional versus deviant peers (Werner & Crick, 2004). There is evidence that girls and boys form friendships and peer networks as early as preschool that are based upon similarity in aggressive behavior (Snyder, Horsch, & Childs,

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35 1997). There is strong evidence that deviant peer networks are we ll established by early adolescence (Masten, 2005). The correlations betw een adolescents antisocial behavior and that of their peer group have been consiste ntly high (Thronberry & Krohn, 1997). Many investigations have demonstrated that aggressive ch ildrens pre-existing antisocial tendencies are exacerbated by associating with deviant peers (Masten, 2005) Developmental theory posits that establishing po sitive, prosocial relationships with peers is a central task during childhood (Masten, 2005). Research regardi ng peer rejection is based on this assumption and presumes that children are deprived of opportunities to learn and practice crucial social skills (e.g., entering continuous peer activities, emotion regulation, conflict resolution) when they are rejected by thei r peers (Masten, 2005; Werner & Crick, 2004). Socially rejected children typi cally possess maladaptive behavi oral styles (e.g., withdrawal, aggression), which may result thei r peers initial reje ction (Werner & Crick, 2004). Socially rejected children may also remain socially unskilled in comparison to their peers due to the isolation they endure (Werner & Crick, 2004). Th is combination of maladaptive behavioral style, isolation, and social re jection further hinders aggressi ve childrens accomplishment of developmental tasks ((Werner & Crick, 2004). Withdrawal More than seventy-four years ago, Jean Piaget hypothesized th at peer relationships offer children an exclusive context fo r social and em otional development (Piaget, 1932). Piaget (1932) posited that the symmetrical distribution of power unique to peer relationships allowed children the opportunity to develop social compet ence, the ability to s ee the perspective of others, and enhance their moral reasoning skills Likewise, nearly fift y-two years ago, Harry Stack Sullivan speculated that the intimacy inherent childrens same-gender friendships promotes the development of identity and contri butes to successful romantic relationships as

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36 children mature into adolescents and adults (Sullivan, 1953). The implication of Piagets (1932) and Sullivans (1953) arguments was that children who were not involved in peer relationships would be deprived of developmental opportuniti es that are critical for positive psychosocial adjustment and growth (Rubin, Burgess, Ke nnedy, & Stewart, 2003; Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). The peer relationships literatur e corroborates these early theo ries (Piaget, 1932; Sullivan, 1953), and provides evidence regarding the signif icance of peer relationships, specifically friendships, in childrens social and emoti onal development (Rubin, Bukowski, & Parker, 1998; Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, BoothLaForce, & Burgess, 2006). To illustrate, friendship has been positively related to measures of self-esteem and f eelings of global selfworth (e.g., Bagwell, Newcomb, & Bukowski, 1998) and is regarded as a crucial source of social support, specifically during st ressful situations (Hodges, Bo ivin, Vitaro, & Bukowski, 1999). Additionally, investigations have demonstrated that friendshi p offers protection from the negative externalizing (e.g., disc ipline problems) and internaliz ing (e.g., depression) symptoms that are associated with peer victimization among children (e.g., Hodges, Boivin, Vitaro, & Bukowski, 1999). There is eviden ce that children who do not establish or maintain close peer relationships and children who e xperience difficult peer relationships (e.g., exclusion from the group), frequently experience social and emo tional problems (Brendge n, Vitaro, & Bukowski, 2000; Parker & Seal, 1996). Specifi cally, researchers have demonstr ated that children who report that they do not have any frie nds suffer from loneliness (Bre ndgen, Vitaro, & Bukowski, 2000; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Prinstein, Cheah, & G uyer, 2005; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005) and fail to demonstrate age-appropriate soci al skills, such as communication and conflict resolution skills (Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Assiduous lack of friendships

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37 throughout childhood has been associated with hei ghtened sensitivity and social timidity (Parker & Seal, 1996), and later inte rnalizing symptoms (Ladd & Troop-Gordon, 2003). Shy and socially withdrawn children ar e often on the periphery of the social arena (Gazelle & Rudolph, 2004; Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, B ooth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006) and have a tendency to actively isolate themse lves due to the social anxiety they experience around others (Gazelle & Rudolph, 2004). Therefore, shy and social ly withdrawn children are typically isolated physically from their peers and thus are deprived of the benefits of close peer relationships, such as peer support, positive se lf esteem, and social compet ence (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, RoseKrasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). There is evidence to support the significant psychosocial maladjustment and difficulties with peers that are associated with shyness and social withdr awal (Rubin, Burgess, Kennedy, & Stewart, 2003). Socially withdr awn children and early adolescents who are shy (i.e., passively withdraw from peers) and socially anxious expe rience loneliness, negative self-perceptions of their social competence and friendships, and su ffer from depressive symptoms (Gazelle & Ladd, 2003; Nilzon & Palmerus, 1998; Rubin, Burgess, Kennedy, & Stewart, 2003). Compared to nonwithdrawn children, shy, socially anxious, withdr awn children are socially unskilled (Gazelle & Rudolph, 2004; Rubin, Burgess, Kennedy, & St ewart, 2003). Shy, socially anxious, withdrawn children do not have the same opport unities to learn social skills, such as communication, conflict resoluti on, and negotiation skills, that nonwithdrawn children have because withdrawn children are not participating in social interac tions with their peers (Gazelle & Rudolph, 2004; Rubin, Burgess, Kennedy, & Stew art, 2003). These differential social learning experiences increase as children mature.

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38 Shyness and social withdrawal become incr easingly salient and ne gative to peers as children grow (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Kras nor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). For example, shy and socially withdrawn children do not seem to be rejected by their classmates in early childhood (Hart, C., Yang, Nelson, Robins on, Olsen, Porter, Jin, Olsen, & Wu, 2000; Ladd & Burgess, 1999). During middle to late chil dhood and early adolescence, however, many shy, socially withdrawn children are rejected by their peers (Rubi n, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). Furthermore, shy and withdrawn childre n become the targets of peer victimization (Hanish & Guerra, 2004). While the aforementioned findings clearly demo nstrate that shyness and social withdrawal are associated with adjustment difficulties at both the individual (e.g., internalizing problems: loneliness, depression) and group (e.g., externalizing problems: peer rejection) levels of social development, less is known about the relationship between social withdrawal and adjustment at the dyadic friendship level (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). While shy and socially withdrawn children may remove themselves from the peer group due to discomfort and social anxiety, it is not known whethe r this discomfort is also overwhelming and intolerable when in the company of only one peer or a few close peers (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, Booth-LaFor ce, & Burgess, 2006). Few researchers have examined social withdrawal at the dyadic level of social interaction (Sch neider, 1999); thus, very little is known about th e interpersonal relationships of socially withdrawn children (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). Given the plethora of presumed advantages that friendship offer (e.g., support of peers, positive communication skills) and the risks associ ated with not participating in such peer relationships (e.g., loneliness, depression), an investigation of shy and socially withdrawn

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39 childrens participation in such relationships may further the unde rstanding of the specific risks associated with being shy and socially w ithdrawn during adolescence (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). The association betwee n social withdrawal and peer rejection has been established in the developmental psychology literature (Masten, 2005); however, it is unclear whether the reported difficulties associated with shyness and social withdrawal may be explained by shy and withdrawn children and adolescents involvement in friendships and other close dya dic relationships (Rubin, Wojsla wowicz, Rose-Krasnor, BoothLaForce, & Burgess, 2006). Relational Aggression and Interpersonal Relationships Research that focuses on re lational aggression among early adolescent girls m ay provide a greater understanding of interp ersonal relationships during mi ddle school. A focus on the development of adaptive interpersonal relationship skills may promote positive communication and conflict resolution skills, enhance adolescen t girls emotional adjustment, and improve academic performance (Adams, Bukowski, & Ba gwell, 2005; Bukowski, 2005; Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005; Dodge & Pettit, 2003; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Ladd, 1999; Masten & Coatsworth, 1998). These findings corroborate research (Card, H odges, Little, & Hawley, 2005; Cillessen & Mayeux, 2004; Cullerton-Sen & Crick, 2005; de los Reyes & Prinstein, 2004; Dodge, et al., 2003; Masten, 2005; Prinstein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005; Werner & Crick, 2004; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005) discussed in the introduction and in part (a) of this section. Here, such findings are expanded upon to enhance the understanding of individual and social correlates of relational aggression as exhi bited in the interpersona l relationships of middle school girls. An examination of the individual and social correla tes of relational aggression and interpersonal relationships follows.

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40 Individual Correlates of Relational Agg ression and Interpersonal Relationships Positive relationships with peers, maintaining friendships, and developing romantic relationships are developmental tasks that orig inate in childhood and c ontinue through adulthood (Masten & Coatsworth, 1998). It is common across societies to measure an individuals successful navigation of developmental tasks in terms of positive peer, family, and school/work relationships (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Masten, 2005). To illustrate, there are positive and negative conseque nces for an individuals peer relationships, including peer victimization or popularity, depr ession or positive adju stment, intervention/ special education settings or mainstream/ a dvanced programs (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Masten, 2005). Adams, Bukowski, and Bagwell (2005) and Grotpeter and Crick (1996) examined dyadic characteristics of friendships at the individual level. Adam s, Bukowski, and Bagwell (2005) posited that friendships would be important in the stab ility of maintaining aggression. Findings from this study indicated that although the st ability of aggression wa s high, it varied depending upon the level of aggression of both adolescents in the friendship and whether the friendship was reciprocated (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005). Grotpeter and Crick (1996) examined features of elementary school children's frie ndships that were less positive than typically assessed in previous investigations (Parker & Asher, 1993). To illustrate, Grotpeter and Crick (1996) focused on conflictual aspect s of the friendship (i.e., relational and overt aggression) and coalitional aspects of the friendship (e.g., re lational and overt aggr ession toward others, exclusivity). These characteristics were exam ined to determine factors that may make a friendship less satisfying to indi viduals (Grotpeter & Crick, 1996) Both Adams, Bukowski, and Bagwell (2005) and Grotpeter a nd Crick (1996) reported that inve stigating aggressive behaviors of individuals in the dyadic contex t of friendships revealed greater insight into the understanding

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41 of peer experiences than studying group inte ractions (Adams, Bukow ski, & Bagwell, 2005; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996) though neither of the in vestigations focused exclusively on middle school girls. This finding is further corroborated by rese arch conducted on dyadi c relationships (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005) that focused on interpersonal perceptions of adolescents. This research reported that girls pe rceive the interpersonal character istics (e.g., social status and aggressiveness) of other girls more accurately than boys, while boys perc eive the interpersonal characteristics of other boys more accurately th an girls (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005). In addition, this study reported similar processes (i.e., consensus and degree of assimilation) to explain such perceptions (Card, H odges, Little, & Hawley, 2005). This tendency of adolescents to perceive others as aggre ssive based upon the actor's gender also leads to adolescents attributing high or low so cial status to the actor (Card, Hodge s, Little, & Hawley, 2005). Grotpeter and Crick (1996) reported findings fr om a previous pilot study (Grotpeter, 1993) that exclusively investigated relationally aggressive girls in the fourth through fifth grades. This pilot study examined the friendship qualities presen t in relationally aggressi ve girls' friendships and assessed the value of the fr iendship qualities to relationall y aggressive girls (Grotpeter, 1993). Characteristic qualities of relationally aggressive girls' fr iendships included conflict and betrayal, ease of conflict reso lution, intimate exchange, validati on and caring, help and guidance, and companionship and recreation (G rotpeter, 1993). The results of the pilot study indicated that relationally aggressive girls reported higher levels of intimate exchange and more relational aggression (i.e., intentionally spr eading rumors or lies about a victim to damage the victim's status in the peer group, isolating the peer by refusing to speak to her or include her in activities) present in their friendships than non-relationally aggressive girls' friendships (Grotpeter, 1993).

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42 Bukowski (2005) corroborates the positive or negative effect of negotiating the developmental stages for an individual by examini ng how peer relationships act as moderators or mediators. Peer interactions have also been studied as causal mode ls in individual-peer relationships and suggest transact ion effects that increase as a dolescents become adults (Dodge & Pettit, 2003; Ladd, 1999; Mast en, 2005). Shy, aggressive, or unexpected behavior has the potential to lead to peer rejection, avoidance, or approval (Masten, 2005). Peer rejection, peer avoidance, or peer approval may then enha nce or ameliorate emotional and behavioral symptoms, such as depression, loneliness, or happiness (Adams, Bukow ski, & Bagwell, 2005; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Masten, 20 05). Peer relationships have the potential to reinforce or punish an individuals behavior and emotions depending upon the individuals desired reaction from peers (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Masten, 2005). Thus, depending upon the individuals expectations of the peer group and the peer groups reaction to the individuals beha vior, peer groups have the capacity to enhance or diminish maladjusted behaviors. Social Correlates of Relational Aggression an d Interpersonal Relationships Children and adolescents who fa il to attain developmental ta sks, such as developing and maintaining positive peer relationships, friendshi ps, and later romantic relationships, meet criterion for problem behavior and/or disorders (e.g., social phobia, withdrawal, bullying, adolescent delinquency, adult criminality) a nd may describe individual and/or social impairments (e.g., loneliness, depression, peer re jection, dropping out of school) as a result of such disorders (Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Kupersmidt, Coie, & Dodge, 1990; Masten, 2005; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). Additiona lly, physically aggressive and relationally aggressive children have been reported to demo nstrate significant difficulties with their peer group both concurrently and as they mature into adulthood (Crick & Grot peter, 1995; Grotpeter

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43 & Crick, 1996; Parker & Asher, 19 87). Evidence from research inve stigations demonstrates that gender normative forms of aggression, such as overt aggression for boys and relational aggression for girls, is more acceptable among the respective genders and is less strongly related to maladjustment (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005; Crick, 1997; Phillepsen, Deptula, & Cohen, 1999). Additionally, physical aggression is reported to be more common among boys than girls (Card, Hodges, L ittle, & Hawley, 2005; Crick, 1997; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Salmivalli, Kaukiainen, & Lagerspetz, 2000). This may be due to social relationships that encourage gender differences in the expr ession of aggressive behaviors. The significance of peer, family, and school relationships as a pot ential mediator or moderator, risk factor, or prot ective factor in terms of dimini shing negative influences and difficult life circumstances represents an area th at has not been widely researched, despite the importance of these factors for adolescents (Bukowski & Adams, 2005; Dishion, Nelson, & Yasui, 2005; Ge, Brody, Conger, Simmons, & Murry, 2002; Masten, 2005). Furthermore, investigations that focus on intervention within peer interactions and study the degree of influence that peers have, the importance of repu tation, and the quality of peer interactions are scarce. A multidimensional, comprehensive interv ention study that targets peer interaction may prevent or ameliorate deficits in social func tioning, interpersonal rela tionships, and academic performance is needed (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Dishion, Nelson, & Yasui, 2005; Hawkins, Catalano, Kostermann, Abbott, & Hill, 1999; Hoza, Gerdes, Mrug, Hinshaw, Bukowski, Gold, et al., 2005; Mast en, 2005). Internalizing sympto ms (e.g., depression, low selfworth) and externalizing symptoms (e.g., gossipi ng, ostracizing) may be ameliorated for middle school girls who are provided the opportunity to learn adaptive inte rpersonal relationship skills. A discussion of the present studys methodology follows.

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44 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY The purpose of this study was to exam ine the correlates that define relational aggression among middle school girls, the relationships amo ng these factors, and th e association between the factors of relational aggressi on and the type of relational a ggression (e.g., verbal, physical, withdrawal) exhibited among middle sc hool girls. The purpose of th is chapter is to present an overview of the methodology of the study. A summary of the following topics will be presented: (a) research design, (b) participants, (c) material s, (d) procedure, (e) instrumentation, (f) data collection, and (g) data analysis. This chapter will conclude with a summary of limitations and assumptions. Research Design The study was a descriptive and inferential surv ey research design. Descriptive statistics are reported for all variables; Chi-Square analyses and 3-W ay ANOVA analyses are reported for all hypotheses. The method of inquiry used in th is study was a scientific, positivistic approach. The steps that were used to test the research questions included collect ing relevant demographic data, administering the survey instruments (D IASBjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992; CSBS-P (Crick, 1995; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995) and analyzing th e data using SPSS 14.0. Research Questions The following research questions w ere investigated in the present study: RQ1. Is age related to relational aggression sc ores (i.e., composite of verbal aggression, and withdrawal subscales) as measured by the Direct Indirect Aggr ession Scales [DIAS] (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) a nd the Childrens Social Behavior ScalePeer Report [CSBS-P] (Crick, 1997)? RQ2. Is socioeconomic status related to rela tional aggression scores (i.e., composite of verbal aggression, and withdrawal subscales ) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997)?

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45 RQ3. Is ethnicity related to relational aggression scores (i.e., composite of verbal aggression, and withdrawal subscales) as meas ured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997)? RQ4. Is there a significant difference in the relational ag gression subscales (e.g., verbal aggression, withdrawal) between age, socioec onomic status, and ethnicity as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterm an, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997)? Hypotheses The following null hypotheses were evaluated in this study. Ho(1): There is no relationship betw een age and relational aggr ession scores (i.e., composite of verbal aggression and withdr awal subscales) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) among middle school girls. Ho(2): There is no relationship between so cioeconomic status and relational aggression scores (i.e., composite of verbal aggression and withdrawal subscales) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterma n, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) among middle school girls. Ho(3): There is no significant difference in ethnicity and relational aggression scores (i.e., composite of verbal a ggression and withdrawal subscal es) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) among middle school girls. Ho(4): There is no significant difference in relational aggression s ubscales (i.e., verbal aggression and withdrawal) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) across all dependent variable categories (age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity) among middle school girls. Participants Two hundred participants were selected from middle schools in north central Florida. Effort was made to select participants from diverse backgrounds will (e.g., age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status). Age (e.g., as measured by grade level), socioeconomic status (e.g., as measured by free/ reduced lunch status), and et hnicity (e.g., as measured by self-report) were determined from demographic data collected from a questionnaire completed by participants.

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46 Participants completed the survey during the spring semester, between April 1, 2007 and May 30, 2007. The survey was administered during study skills classes. The researcher or a trained assistant administered paper copies of the survey. Setting Data was collected from two middle schools in north central Florid a (Agresti & Finaly, 1997; Creswell, 2005). Both schools serviced a range of students with regard to age (e.g., middle school students), ethnic ity (e.g., Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American), linguistic background (e.g., speakers of English as a first language, speakers of other languages as a first language), and socioeconomic status (e.g., free and reduced lunch). School A is composed of students from kindergar ten through twelfth grade and represents a range of st udents in terms of socioeconom ic background, ethnicity, and academic ability. The number of middle school st udents enrolled is 342; the total population of the school, including staff and students is 1,150. Of the 342 middle school students, 176 are male and 166 are female. There are 195 middle school students who are identified as Caucasian, 83 as African American, 39 as Latino/a, 17 as Multi racial, 7 as Asian and 1 as Native American. The socioeconomic background of the middle school students is as follows: 9.9% are receiving lunches at a reduced rate and 13.5% obt ain their lunches at no cost. Data for sample School B was obtained from the county the school is located in. There were 921 students enrolled. Of the 921 middle school students enrolled in School B, 45% are male and 55% are female. Thirty-one percen t of middle school students are identified as Caucasian, 57% as African American, 2% as La tino/a, and 9% as Asian. The socioeconomic background of the middle school students is as fo llows: 6% are receiving lunches at a reduced rate and 49% obtain their lunches at no cost. See Appendix I for tables representing the demographic characteristics of the schools in the sample for the purposes of this study.

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47 Materials The rela tional aggression survey included thirty -nine items total that are related to verbal aggression and withdrawal (see Appendices B & C). The DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) consists of twenty-four item s designed to measure verbal aggression and withdrawal. The CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) consists of fifteen items designed to measure overt and covert aggression. Participants used a five-point Likert-type scale to rate th e occurrence of relationally aggressive behaviors that they engage in (e.g., they are the aggressor) and receive (e.g., they are the victim). The measure consisted of items that inquired about participants level of verbal aggression and withdrawal. Procedure The relation al aggression survey was administ ered to every student in a classroom after obtaining permission from the school board, princi pals, parents, teachers, and students at each school. Two hundred participants were asked to co mplete the survey during the last eight weeks of the semester. Each administ ration of the survey took thirty minutes. The first five minutes were devoted to introduction of the researcher and the survey and explanation of instructions for completing the survey. The survey required appr oximately twenty minutes to complete. The remaining five minutes were allotted to coll ect completed surveys and answer any questions participants had. Although all st udents whose parents consented to participation in the classroom were given a survey to complete, only the surv eys completed by girls were used in the data analysis. Any student whose parents refused consen t to participate in the survey were asked to read a book in their seats. The researcher or a trained survey administrator disseminated and collected the survey and pencils from participants. The research er facilitated the administration of the survey using a standardized procedure (see Appendix H).

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48 Girls were selected to part icipate in the survey based upon their age at the time of administration (e.g., only sixth through eighth grade gi rls, ages eleven to fi fteen). Participants who did not understand or speak English fluently, and students who were unable to complete the survey due to classification as emotionally or physically disabled were excluded from participation. The survey was administered once all consent and assent forms were received. Independent Variable The independent variable in this study was relational aggression, whic h is com posed of a composite of verbal aggression and withdrawal sc ores from the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and CSBS-P (Crick, 1997). These behaviors are defined by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997). The independent variable was assessed using the questionnaires discussed below. Dependent Variables The dependent variables that were measured in this study include age, socioeconom ic status, and ethnicity. The categor ical variable (i.e., ethnicity), together with the continuous variable (i.e., socioeconomic status) as the covari ate, were control variables. A discussion of the instrumentation, data collecti on, and data analyses follows. Instrumentation Direct Indirect Aggression Scales The Direct Indirect Aggressi on Scales [DIAS] (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterm an, 1992) is a twenty-four item instrument designed to m easure three types of aggr ession: physical, verbal, and indirect. There are seven items that measure physical aggression, five items related to verbal aggression, and twelve items rega rding indirect aggression (Bjr kqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992). The DIAS questionnaire is administered in groups (i.e., to each student in a class) (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992). Child ren and adolescents ab ove ten years of age

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49 are able to complete the DIAS using paper and pencil, while younger children must be interviewed (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterma n, 1992). The DIAS may be used in different forms (e.g., victim version and aggressor vers ion) and for different purposes: for peer estimations, teacher estimations, and self estimations (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992). In the victim version, the items are revised as follows: (1) "Who is hit by others?", (2) "Who is shut out of the group by others?" (Bj rkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992). The aggressor version will be used in the present study to meas ure the features of relational aggression as they relate specifically to middl e school girls. Sample items on the aggressor version of the instrument for the purposes of th e present study include dire ctions that instruct participants to answer how you and your friends act when you have problems or get angry with each other. Items include (1) Yell at or argu e with the person Im angry with, (2) Become friends with another person as a kind of revenge. The original investigation of the DIAS was administered to 2,094 children ages eight, eleven, and fifteen in Turkey, Finland, Poland, Ro me, and Chicago. Reliability for the subscales was reported in terms of internal consistency ranging from 0.78 to 0.96 (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992). Validity has been establis hed in multiple studies (Kaukiainen, Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, sterman, Salmivalli, Rothberg, & Ahlbom, 1999; sterman, Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, Charpentier, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 1999; Owen, 1996; Pakaslahti & KeltikangasJarvinen, 2000; Salmivalli & Kaukiainen, 2004) that used the DIAS to examine overt and relational aggression in children and adolescents, as well as correlating the subscale and total scores with the self, peer, and teacher ratings An investigation conducted by Pakaslahti and Keltikangas-Jarvinen (2000) examined the re lationships between peer nomination, teacher ratings, and self report of dir ect and indirect aggression us ing the DIAS. Pakaslahti and

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50 Keltikangas-Jarvinen (2000) repor t that the correlation (Pearson' s r) between the scales was 0.58 (p < 0.001) for peer nominations of direct and indi rect aggression, while reli ability for the direct aggression scale was Cronbach's Alpha = 0.76. The t eacher rating of aggressive behavior reports that the correlation (Pearson's r) between the direct and indirect aggression scales was 0.57 (p < 0.001), while reliability for dire ct aggression scale was Cronba ch's Alpha = 0.72 (Pakaslahti & Keltikangas-Jarvinen, 2000). The self-rating port ion of the study reported that the correlation (Pearson's r) between the scales was 0.65 (p < 0.001), while the reliab ilities reported were Cronbach's Alpha = 0.81 and 0.70, for direct aggr ession and indirect aggression, respectively (Pakaslahti & Keltikangas-Jarvinen, 2000). Childrens Social Behavior ScalePeer Report The Childrens Social Behavior ScalePeer Report [CSBS-P] (Crick, 1997) is a fifteen item instrument designed to measure overt and co vert aggression. There are five items that measure physical aggression, five items related to relational aggression, a nd four items regarding prosocial behavior (Crick, 1995; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Crick & Werner, 1998, p1632). The CSBS-P questionnaire is administered in groups (i.e., to each student in a class) (Crick, 1995, 1997; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). Reliability for the subscales was reported in terms of internal consistency with Cronbachs alpha ranging from 0.94 to 0.97 fo r overt aggression and from 0.82 to 0.89 for relational aggression (Crick, 1995, 1996; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). The measure has also demonstrated high test-retest reliability over a four-week interval, with r = 0.90 for the overt aggression subscale and 0.82 for the relational aggression subscale (Crick, 1995, 1996; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). Crick (1997) conducted a factor analysis on the measure with elementary school students that yielded three separate f actors: overt aggression, relational aggression, and prosocial behavior. The fact or loadings of items ranged from 0.70 to 0.90, with all cross-

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51 loadings below 0.43, which demons trates the distinctive natu re of overt and relational aggression. Validity has been established in multiple studies (Crick, 1996, 1997; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Crick & Werner, 1998; Crick, Werner, Casas, OBrien, Nelson, Grotpeter, & Markon, 1999) that used the CSBS-P to examine overt and relational aggr ession in children and adolescents. Data Collection The length of tim e required for the administrati on of the survey was thirty minutes. The length of time necessary for completing the ques tionnaire was twenty minutes; five minutes were allotted at the beginning of the administrati on to explain the purpose of the study and disseminate the survey and five minutes were reserved at the completion of the survey for collection and brief answers to questions. A general outline of the time schedule that the researcher utilized is as follows: administra tion of the survey occurred from April 1, 2007 through May 30, 2007. Data Analysis Descriptive statistics and cross-tabs were calculated and reported for all independent and dependent variables, given the ratio level data collected for age (in months), socioeconomic status (free or reduced lunch status based upon annual income), and relational aggression scores (i.e., composite of verbal a ggression and withdrawal subscal es) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) a nd the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997). Chi square correlation coefficients were used to analyze the variables for streng th and direction of relationships. Three-way ANOVA an alyses were conducted to dete rmine any interaction effects (Agresti & Finaly, 1997). Specifically, Chi Square correlation coeffi cients determined the significance (e.g., r >0.50 and P <0.05). According to Leedy and Ormr od (2005), Chi Square correlation coefficient

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52 values above .75 are considered good to exce llent. Sproull (2005) supports this with the report that Chi Square correlation coefficient values between .85 and 1.00 are high whereas those between .50 and .84 are moderate. More over, the use of two tailed Chi Square correlation coefficients are appropriately used when the direction of effect is unknown, as indicated by the re search hypotheses. Given the nominal level data collected fo r ethnicity, three-way ANOVA analyses were used to test for significant differences in relati onal aggression scores (i.e ., composite of verbal aggression and withdrawal subscales) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) among middle school gi rls. Three-way ANOVA analyses were used to test for significant differe nces in relational aggre ssion sub-scores (verbal aggression and withdrawal) between the DIAS and CSBS-P instruments across all dependent variables. Finally, relevant descriptive sta tistics were analyzed using SPSS 14.0. These data were reported to describe the res ponses of all participants to the survey (Creswell, 2005). Each of the analyses described above may expose in formation that will enhance the understanding of relational aggression among middle school girls. Study Assumptions and Limitations The population of m iddle school girls available to participate in the study was from one region in the southeastern United States. A lthough the sample of girls was drawn from demographically representative schools (i.e., diverse range of age, socioeconomic, ethnic, linguistic backgrounds), the use of a convenience sample from one geographical location may impact the extent to which the results are appli cable in other populations (i.e., generalizability). A researcher-constructed questionnaire was us ed in this study. The questionnaire may not include the ideas or components th at middle school girls consider in tegral to the examination of

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53 relational aggression. Finally, th e results depended upon particip ants honesty in responding to the instrument. For the purposes of this study, the following assumptions were made: 1. The participants were selected by means of a convenience sampling technique and participated in the study by comple ting a thirty-nine item survey. 2. The respondents that returned comple ted survey packages we re middle school students living in a mid-sized city in the southeast. 3. The surveys were distributed during th e length of one visit to participating schools by the study's principal researcher and a trained assistant. Each survey required no more than thirty minutes to complete. 4. The participants who completed th e survey responded honestly based on guaranteed anonymity. 5. The participants un derstood their role in the study. Limitations inherent to this study include the following: 1. The application of the instruments used in this study (e.g., Dir ect Indirect Aggression Scale, The Childrens Social Behavior Scale Pe er Report), must be determined to be valid measures of verbal aggr ession and withdrawal. 2. The volunteer status of survey particip ants restricted the gene ralizability of findings. Additionally, the sample population, ( n size), may restrict generali zability of the findings to any population broader than middle school studen ts living in the southeast United States. 3. In questionnaires that ask participants to self-disclose, limitations arise because the attitudes and beliefs expressed on the survey ma y not reflect the participants true attitudes and beliefs (e.g., respondents falsify positive or fa lsify negative responses to survey items). 4. The study population was constructed based on a convenience sampling technique to survey a sample of students from selected midsized schools in the southeast. However, the proportion of male and female students in midsized schools in the southeast may not reflect comparable proportions of student populations at the national or state level. In this case, skewed data may be eliminated by comparing data between male and female participants based on a common trait such as age (Sprinthall, 2003). 5. The demographic characteristic surveyed was gender. Other demographic characteristics that could influence the study findings, such as age range, whether the school setting is urban, rural, or metropolitan, and rang es of grade point aver age, were not included in the data analysis for this study.

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54 6. Potential identifiable information colle cted was age, meal status, ethnicity, and grade level. 7. The principal researcher is a mental health counselor from a mid-sized city in the southeast. The researcher's career experience has the potential to bias the interpretation during data analysis. However, every effort wa s made to eliminate any bias by solely using quantitative data. 8. Social desirability or respondents de sire to acquiesce to what they presume the researcher is interested in finding through c onducting the study. This is a limitation that should be addressed, since respondents have a tendency to report as favorably as possible to questionnaires and enhance th eir social desirability. 9. Self report of participants to the instrument. This is a limitation that may be addressed through gathering teacher and peer estimations in addition to self estimations and using time series measurements. Furthermore, obtaining a random sample that mirrors the city, state, or country would enhance the genera lizability of the findings to re flect more accurately what is contained in the population at large.

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55 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS In this chapter, the results of the study ar e presented in four sections including (a) the demographics of the sample, (b) analysis of the instruments used in this study, (c) the results and data analyses of each research question and hypothesis, and (d) a summary of the findings. Sample Demographics A total sam ple size of 273 girls completed th e survey. Participants ranged in grade level from sixth through eighth (11 to 15 year s of age, see Table 4-1). Participants identified ethnically as primarily African American (45.4%, N = 124) and Caucasian (40.7%, N = 111), and then Other (13.9 %, N = 38) ethnically identi fied participants. Participants represented diverse ethnic backgrounds (see Table 4-2). However the majority of the sample was Caucasia n and African American (86.1%). Table 4-1. Participants grade level/age groups Grade Level/Age Group N Total Percent 6th Grade 95 34.80 7th Grade 95 34.80 8th Grade 83 30.40 Table 4-2. Participants ethnic backgrounds Ethnic Background N Total Percent African American 124 45.4 Asian American 14 5.1 Caucasian 111 40.7 Hispanic/Latino/a 16 5.9 Native American 8 2.9

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56 There were 95 participants in the sixth grade, 95 in the seventh grade, and 83 participants in the eighth grade. The majo rity of study particip ants did not receive financial assistance to purchase meals at sc hool (57.5%), while the re maining participants received free lunch (31.9%, Table 4-3) or reduced lunch (10.6%, Table 4-3). Table 4-3. Participants meal status/ socioeconomic status Meal Status N Total Percent Free Lunch 87 31.87 Reduced Fee Lunch 29 10.62 No Financial Assistance 157 57.51 Analysis of Instruments Used in Study For the purp oses of the current study, each s ubscale score is reported as part of the total scale score for relational aggression, ra ther than separating the subscales into separate entities. Th is decision was made due to the small number of items (e.g., eight) per subscale, which did not contain enough cells for analysis of the data. Thus, a total relational aggression scale scor e for the DIAS and CSBS-P was used in this study, rather than using subscales as individua l scales. As a result, separate subscale scores will not be reported. Direct Indirect Aggression Scale (DIAS) The reliability analysis using Cronbachs alpha of the DIAS were conducted in order to d etermine the reliability of this measur e. Results indicated that the items fell into the subscales identified by the authors of the instrument (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992). The subscales identified were as follows: Verbal Aggression, Physical Aggression, and Indirect Aggre ssion. Note that for the purpo ses of the present study, the Physical Aggression subscale is not included in the analysis The DIAS was rated on a

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57 five point Likert t ype response scale of Never (0) to Very Often (4). Table 4-4 presents the reliability data for the total scale score. Table 4-4. Measurement properties of the DIAS scale Scale Cronbach Alpha Number of Items Items Reversed DIAS .70-.76 24 0 Childrens Social Behavior Sc ale Peer Report (CSBS-P) The CSBS-P was developed to measure overt and covert relational aggression. The CSBS-P is a fourteen-item instrument. The re liability analysis usi ng Cronbachs alpha of the CSBS-P indicated the items fell into the subscales identified by the authors of the instrument (Crick, 1997). The subscales identified were as follows: Relational Aggression, Physical Aggression, and Prosocial Behavior. Note that for the purposes of this investigation, the Physic al Aggression and Prosocial Behavior subscales are not included in the analysis. Instead, the items th at are indicative of ve rbal aggression were considered to be part of the overall relati onal aggression scale score, along with those corresponding items from the DIAS. The CSBS -P was rated on a five point Likert type response scale of Never (0) to Very Often (4). Table 4-5 presents the reliability data for the total scale score. Table 4-5: Measurement properties of the CSBS-P scale Scale Cronbach Alpha Number of Items Items Reversed CSBS-P .82-.89 15 0 Data Analysis Four hypotheses were addressed in th is study of relational aggression among female middle school students. Each hypothesis is addressed individually followed by the analysis used to test the hypothesis. Descri ptive statistics, such as skewness, kurtosis, normality, means, frequencies, and plots were used to assess the assumptions of the

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58 analyses and the data was found to meet these assumptions. Chi-Squared and 3-Way ANOVA analyses were used to answer th e four hypotheses posed by this study. Hypotheses 1 was as follows: HO1: There is no relationship between age and relational aggre ssion scores (i.e., composite of verbal aggression and withdr awal subscales) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) among middle school girls. A Chi Square analysis was calculated for age/grade level group and the Relational Aggression scale. There was a positive signi ficant relationship between age/grade level group membership and Relational Aggression. Thus, the null hypothesis is rejected for Hypothesis 1; there is a relationship betw een age/grade level group membership and Relational Aggression. Chi-square = 110.73 (N = 271). A Three-Way ANOVA was conducted and was found to be significant (p=.015, < .05). The Tukey HSD procedure revealed that pairwise differences among means for sixth and seventh grade students were significant, p < .05. The second hypothesis addresse d by this study was as follows: HO2: There is no relationship between socioeconomic status and relational aggression scores (i.e., composite of verbal aggression and withdr awal subscales) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) among midd le school girls. A Chi Square analysis was calculated for socioeconomic status and the Relational Aggression scale. Chi-square = 189.18 (N = 271). There was a positive significant relationship between socioeconomic status and Relational Aggression. Thus, the null

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59 hypothesis is rejected for Hypot hesis 2; there is a relati onship between socioeconomic status and Relational Ag gression. A Three-Way ANOVA was conducted and was found to be signif icant (p=.050, < .05). The Tukey HSD procedure revealed that pairwise differences among means for no meal assistance and free meals were significant, p < .05. The third hypothesis posed for this study was as follows: HO3: There is no significant difference in ethnicity and relational aggression scores (i.e., composite of verbal a ggression and withdrawal subscal es) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) among middle school girls. A Chi Square analysis was conducted for ethnicity and the Relational Aggression scale. Chi-square = 202.29 (N = 271). Th ere was a positive significant relationship between ethnicity and Relational Aggressi on. The correlation is low and the null hypothesis is rejected for Hypot hesis 3; there is a relati onship between ethnicity and Relational Aggression. A Three-Way ANO VA was conducted and was found to be significant (p=.018, < .05). The Tukey HSD procedur e revealed that pairwise differences among means for African Amer ican and Latino/a participants were significant, p < .05. The fourth hypothesis was as follows: HO4: There is no significant difference in relational aggression subscales (i.e., verbal aggression and withdrawal) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) across all dependent variable categories (i.e., grade level/ age, socioeconomic st atus, ethnicity) among middle school girls.

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60 This hypothesis tested whether or not th ere was a significant relationship between grade level/ age, socioeconomic status, a nd ethnicity as measured by the Relational Aggression scale. A ThreeWay ANOVA was conducted and wa s found to be significant (p=.049, < .05). Results revealed a significant relationship between ethnicity and Relational Aggression (see Table 4-6). Theref ore, the null hypothesis was rejected for the combination of all independent variab les (e.g., age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity) and Relationa l Aggression. The Tukey HSD pro cedure revealed that pairwise differences between means for African American and Latino/a, and among socioeconomic status for particip ants were significant, p < .05. Table 4-6: Three-way ANOVA for age, so cioeconomic status, and ethnicity and relational aggression (N=273) Relational Aggression 3-Way Age ANOVA SES Ethnicity .716 .305 .963 Significance Age (2-tailed) SES Ethnicity .804 .608 .049* *Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level Table 4-7: Tukey HSD comparison for age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity and relational aggression (N=273) Relational Aggression Tukey Age SES Ethnicity .019* .002* .000* *Correlation is signif icant at the 0.05 level

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61 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION Although research on aggressi on is abundant, there has be en little examination focused specifically on female middle school st udents and the charac teristics associated with relational aggression. Additionally, there is a lack of research on gender and racial differences related to relational aggression during the middle school years. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine rati ngs of relational aggression among middle school girls, the relationship among these factors, and the association between relational aggression and the type of relational aggr ession (e.g., verbal, withdrawal) exhibited among middle school girls. This chapter pr esents a summary of research, the major findings of the study, the limitations, implications to theory and practice and recommendations for future research Summary of Study and Major Findings A convenience sample of 273 middle school students was drawn from similarly sized schools in the southeastern United States Participants completed a thirty-nine-item survey, which included: the Direct Indirect Aggression Scale, the Childrens Social Behavior ScalePeer Report and seven demographic questions. Data was analyzed using Chi-Square analyses an d 3-Way ANOVA analyses. Age The first hypothesis investigated was th e relationship between age and relational aggression scores (i.e., composite of verbal aggression and withdr awal subscales) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) among middle schoo l girls. Results revealed a significant relationship between age and relational aggression for this population. Thus, results indicate that the

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62 older an individual becomes the more sophist icated communication and relational skills that person rates themselves as having. This is supported by research that suggests that middle school girls often demonstrate higher levels of relational aggression the more advanced their communication skills became (Crick, 1996). Socioeconomic Status The second hypothesis explored the associa tion between socioeconomic status and relational aggression scores (i.e., composite of verbal aggression and withdrawal subscales) as measured by the DIAS (Bjr kqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) among middle school girl s. Results showed that there was a significant relationship between the socioeconomi c status of middle school girls and their reported experience of relational aggression. This supports previous findings by KhouryKassabri, Benbenishty, and Astor (2005) who found significant socioeconomic differences in respondents reported relati onal aggression among students in Israel. These results may imply that there are differences in the relational aggression experienced among different socioecono mic brackets among middle school girls. Ethnicity The third hypothesis addressed the relati onship between ethnicity and relational aggression scores (i.e., composite of verbal aggression and withdr awal subscales) as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) among middle school girls. The data analysis indicated that there was a significant relationship between ethnicity a nd relational aggression among middle school girls. This supports previous findings by Chang (2003) and French, Jansen, and Pidada (2002) who found significant differences among ethnic backgrounds in an investigation

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63 of peer-reported relational aggression among high school students. These findings may suggest that there are differe nces in the relational aggres sion experienced among different ethnic backgrounds amo ng middle school girls. Age, Socioeconomic Status, and Ethnicity The fourth hypothesis explored whether th ere was a significant difference in the relational aggression subscales (e.g., verbal a ggression and withdrawal) for age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status as measured by the DIAS (Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, & sterman, 1992) and the CSBS-P (Crick, 1997) existed. This hypot hesis investigated whether the combination of age, socio economic status, and ethnicity affected respondents level of relati onal aggression. Two relationa l aggression styles, verbal aggression and withdrawal, were correlated to reported level of relational aggression. Results revealed a significant relationship between age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity and relational aggression. These results suggest th at there are differences in the experience of relational aggression when age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity are considered in combination. Discussion of Aggression A num ber of studies, as mentioned in the introduction, have attempted to distinguish between overt a nd relational aggression (Cill essen & Mayeux, 2004; Crick, 1996; Cullerton-Sen & Crick, 2005; de los Re yes & Prinstein, 2004; Prinstein, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005; Werner & Crick, 2004; Zimmer-G embeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). While it is true that investigations of overt (i.e., physical fighti ng) aggression, or bullying, have been more prolific historically than those of relational aggression, a form of bullying that is more common among girls than boys (Crick, 1996), the present study has undertaken

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64 the process of describing re lational aggression specifically for middle school girls. A thorough discussion by Comstock (2005) related to the development of women offers questions for reflection that rev eal fascinating insights into this little-researched topic. The author introduces these intriguing reflect ion questions by descri bing the birth of her own daughter and described the overwhelming sense of protecting her while teaching her to be authentic and allowing her to find her voice, develop self confidence, and promote her gender, cultural, and sexual identity development (2005). These thought-provoking questions place the spotlight on how girls are so cialized to hide thei r naturally occurring sense of connecting (i.e., th rough relationships) with others in favor of the values imposed on them by the patriarchal nature of the society in which we live, including sexism, individualism, and racism (Comst ock, 2005). The present investigation has found a correlation between girl s age, ethnic, and socio economic backgrounds and their experience of relational aggression, which are in terpreted with respec t to the theoretical, professional, and societal implications so th at the findings may be practically applied. This has implications for parents, teachers, counselors, and soci ety as a whole. In terms of implications for parents, rais ing girls to be conf ident, self-assured, empowered, and unafraid to authentically verbalize their thoughts, feelings, and experiences may appear to be a challenging task. Yet by creating a safe environment for girls to express their unique voi ces, parents can instill a sense of self-worth at a very early age. To illustrate, by allowing girls the oppor tunity to verbalize their experiences, and encouraging girls to share thei r feelings, thoughts, and desires, parents can impart a sense of validity that nourishes her ge nder, cultural, and social development. Additionally, the language parents use to teach their daughters culturally and socially acceptable behaviors

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65 is important in expressing th e value of girls experiences. For example, instead of shaming girls for trying to establish or main tain relationships with others, parents can acknowledge the underlying desire while simultaneously imparting their own standards. Parents may use role plays to establish acceptable patterns of relating to others or encourage their daughters to creatively express her emoti ons through drawing, movement (e.g., dancing, sports), or other creative activities (e.g., pottery, painting,) if she is unable or unwilling to verbalize her feelings, thoughts, or ideas in conversati ons with others. For teachers, creating classrooms that validate girls need to relate to one another and to boys represents one method for facil itating healthy development. This does not have to occur exclusive of boys needs; rather it can be added to the familiar context of the classroom environment. Teachers can also incorporate affirming language and teaching tools that encourage girls to explor e their relational need s via group projects, activities, and teamwork. Again, these teach ing tools do not indicat e a rejection of the current teaching style, only an addition to th e common format of clas sroom learning. By validating girls unique lear ning needs, poor academic achievement, learning difficulties, and social-psychological adjustment may impr ove as girls become free to learn without the constraints of forcing themselves to fit into a preconceived notion that does not include room for them to express their true nature. Counselors have a unique opportunity to en courage and provide a safe environment for girls to discover their own voice, model au thenticity, and facilitate the development of healthy esteem for girls, thei r parents, other professionals, and society. In addition to classroom guidance lessons, small psychoeduc ational groups, and i ndividual counseling, counselors can assist the sc hool and community by promoti ng awareness, education, and

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66 engaging in action steps that en hance the social-psychological development of girls. This may be accomplished through open house presentations, hosting family-oriented psychoeducational groups that demonstrate he althy interaction patte rns, and regularly presenting their case study observations, couns eling experiences, prev ention/ intervention techniques, or other investigations conducted at professional conferences. Implications for society as a whole include valuing the contributions of girls and women to create and maintain relationships, nurture, and tend to the needs of their family, friends, and loved ones. Although these are unstated expecta tions, they are not valued in a patriarchal society that promotes individuality, hierarchical conformity, and self-preservation above all else. It will re quire tolerance of dive rsity (e.g., ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, language), openness to a new paradigm (i.e., a non-patriarchal paradigm, a gender-neutral paradigm), and change the dynamics of relationships by placing emphasis on relationships and self. This investigation has been an attempt to address the deficit reported by Prinstein and La Greca (2004) that there is a stunning lack of research focused solely on the aggressive behavior of girls, since several of the studies (e.g., Coie, Dodge, & Kupersmidt, 1990; We rner & Crick, 2004; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005) include both boys and gi rls in the sample and many studies (e.g., Cillessen, van Ijzendoorn, van Lieshout, & Ha rtup, 1992; Dishion, Capaldi, & Youerger, 1999; Haselager, Cillessen, van Lieshout, Ri ksen-Walraven, & Hartup, 2002) have only males in the sample. Incidence of Physical Aggre ssion and Criminal Behavior Research is revealing in creasing rates of externaliz ing behavior among girls along with considerable evidence connecting relational aggressi on (e.g., lying, gossiping) in girls (Keenan, Loeber, & Green, 1999; Prin stein & La Greca, 2004). Governmental

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67 statistics and numerous investigations illust rate the need for an examination of the individual and social correlat es of relational aggression and the types of aggression (e.g., verbal, withdrawal, relational) exhibi ted among girls (CDC, 2002; OJJDP, 2000; Prinstein & La Greca, 2004). The present study has attempted to distinguish between verbal aggression, withdrawal, a nd relational aggression so that the extent to which each of these features contributes to the devel opment or maintenance of relational aggression can be ascertained. Likewise, the current inve stigation has attempted to differentiate the externalizing behavior of girls from that of boys, since the externalizing behaviors exhibited by girls are distin ct from those exhibited by boys (Crick, 1996; Prinstein & La Greca, 2004). To illustrate, boys demonstrat e greater levels of overt aggression (e.g., hitting, pushing, kicking), than girls (Crick, 1996; Prinstein & La Greca, 2004). Girls, however, are more likely to engage in relati onal aggression, such as excluding the victim from the peer group, lying, spreading rumors or gossiping (Crick, 1996; Prinstein & La Greca, 2004). Thus, it is not surprising that the externalizing behaviors exhibited by early adolescent girls may have far-reaching consequences (i.e., impact their academic performance and social psychological adju stment) (Masten, 2005). What may be surprising is the extent to which Caucas ian girls from middle class socioeconomic backgrounds engage in relationa lly aggressive behaviors as compared to minority girls from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. This study found a higher correlation between girls from Caucasian middle class soci oeconomic backgrounds engaging relational aggression to establish or maintain rela tionships than minority girls from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, who indicated that they typically relied on more physical forms of aggression in their relationships with others. The study also found the greatest

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68 variance among participants se lf reported ethnic background and relational aggression was among the African American and Latina gi rls. This may represent a trend for minority girls in terms of adapting to the acceptable ways of expressing anger in an academic setting. Middle school girls involved in relational aggression (i.e., victim or aggressor) may also be at risk for learning difficulties, lo w academic performance, or negative emotional adjustment (e.g., loneliness, depression, withdraw al) that is influenced by the peer group (Masten, 2005). Relationships with peers, teachers, and parents may impact the development and maintenance of relationa l aggression (Chang, 2003; Meehan, Hughes, & Cavell, 2003; Prinstein, Cheah, & Guye r, 2005). Bjrkqvist, Lagerspetz, and sterman (1992) reported that verbal aggres sion and withdrawal ar e associated with relational aggression am ong children and adolescents. These features may lead to negative consequences for girls (e.g., low gr ades, poor social-psychological adjustment) (Prinstein & La Greca, 2004). To summarize, girls are just as likely as boys to demonstrate multiple problem behaviors, such as engaging in aggressive and criminal behaviors (Prinstein & La Greca, 2004) but for very different reasons. Clearly, research on relational aggression among girls is a problem that continues to reveal new facets that need to be investigated. The re lationship between bullying and relational aggression must be further explicated so that professionals understand the unique correlates (e.g., individual and soci al) of relational ag gression among middle school girls, how the correlates of relational aggre ssion interact with one another (i.e., how self worth interacts with peer relationships), and the im pact relational aggression has upon middle school girls. This may lead to understanding the differences between

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69 relational aggression among elementary, middle, and hi gh school girls and assist counselors with the implementa tion of an efficacious intervention program, such as the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program [OBPP], that has demonstrated improvements of such behavior (e.g., excluding peers, lying, gossiping). Need for Future Study The im portance of developing positive interper sonal skills is considered essential to our society (Werner & Crick, 2004). Prior studies (Coie, Dodge, & Kupersmidt, 1990; Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005) have examined the role of individual and social correlates of relational aggression am ong girls, but none were found at the time of this investigation that focused solely on mi ddle school girls. Recen t research, described in the introduction, shows that relational aggression appears to be increasing among middle school age students, especially am ong girls (Zimmer-Gembeck, Geiger, & Crick, 2005). This trend, as a social observation, is alarming a nd suggests the need for the studies aimed at identifying the etiology of relational aggression, describing the salient features of the development of relationally a ggressive interaction patterns, and treatment that will ameliorate this type of maladaptive behavior (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, RoseKrasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). Such research has implications for guiding successful social-psychological and academ ic adjustment among middle school girls, raising awareness of parents, teachers, and the community regarding healthy socialization of girls, and improving training programs for counselors. The purpose of this study was to examin e the correlates that define relational aggression among middle school girls, the rela tionships among these factors, and the association between the correlates of relati onal aggression and the type of relational aggression (e.g., verbal, withdrawal) exhibited among middle sc hool girls. The findings

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70 of this study contributed to the theoretical understanding of relational aggression among middle school girls, suggested evidence-base d efficacious interventions, and described the etiology of internalizing (e.g., individual features: wi thdrawal, depression) and externalizing (e.g., social feat ures: peer relationships, type of aggression exhibited) behaviors unique to middle school girls. Th is study examined the relationship between individual factors (e.g., withdr awal, depression) and social factors (peer relationships) related to relational aggression among middle school girls. This study also discussed the implications for counselors. The present study contributed to the theoretical unde rpinnings of relational aggression in middle school girls by focu sing exclusively on this underrepresented population in the literature and posited that developmental theori es, social-information processing, and social-psychological models in fluence the exhibition of externalizing and internalizing behaviors in adolescent girls. This study extended th e findings in previous investigations through the incorporation of developmental and social-psychological theories in an investigation that targeted mi ddle school girls. Identifying the theoretical foundation for relationally aggressive behavi ors among middle school girls illuminated appropriate interventions for pr ofessional counselors to consider Implications for further research were outlined as a result of exam ining the correlates of relational aggression specifically with middle school girls. Researchers (Margolin, 2001; Prinstein & La Greca, 2004) have examined the role of peer acceptance and rejection in predicting externalizing behavior among adolescents. This body of research explores the development of aggression, the nature of interpersonal relationships as moderating or exacerbating behavior, and investig ates the role of

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71 preventive interventions across developmental stages (Prinstein & La Greca, 2004). Other researchers (Dodge, Lansford, Burks, Ba tes, Pettit, Fontaine, & Price, 2003) have examined the role of social-information pr ocessing and social-psychological theories related to relational aggressi on. This line of inquiry exam ines the nature of peer relationships and individu al attributions to ambiguous and non-ambiguous social interactions (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005; Dodge, et al., 2003; Masten, 2005). For example, peer relationships can ameliora te or exacerbate the impact of relationally aggressive behaviors according to whether th e relationship is positive (i.e., assisting a new student in the transition to school, pr otecting targets of ag gression, decreasing the likelihood of externalizing behavior) or negati ve (i.e., reinforcing he alth risk behaviors through peer pressure, highlighting the eff ects of adverse parenting styles) and the context in which situations occur (Masten, 2005). In term s of attributing hostile or friendly intent to peers in ambiguous situations whether the individual is rejected by the peer group plays a critical role (Card, H odges, Little, & Hawley, 2005; Dodge, et al., 2003). Still other researchers (Cairns, Xie, & Leung, 1998; Cillessen & Bukowski, 2000) have investigated the role of reputation or social power with regard to relational aggression. To illustrate, the social power an individual possesses may indicate collective conflict between girl and boy cultures, deve lopmental risk factors under certain conditions (e.g., exposure to community or family violence), or the inequitable distribution of power between bullies and vi ctims and accepted versus rejected children (Cairns, Xie, & Leung, 1998; Cillessen & Bukowski, 2000; Rodkin, et. al, 2003). A review of the literature addressed the individu al features (e.g., wit hdrawal, depression) of relational aggression, the social features (e.g., peer relations hips) of relatio nal aggression,

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72 and the association between the type (e.g., verbal, physical, withdr awal) of relational aggression exhibited and the features of re lational aggression among middle school girls. Limitations of the Study Although the overall results may be genera lized to female middle school students in the southeast, they should be interpreted within the context of this study. There are several limitations to the study that include the sampling procedures, recruiting minority participants, self-reporting, and data collection techniques. A primary concern is with the sampling procedure. The researcher was unable to get a random sample of female middle school students; therefore, a convenience sample was used. Participant recruitment relied on organizational contact persons to distribute information about the investigation to study skills teachers once the investigation was approved by the school district. The response rate and details about who received the invitation to participate in the study is unclear. Additionally, since the study was conducted at schools that were available to participate, it was difficult to reach equal numbers of various ethnic groups. The overall proportion of White middle school girls to Bl ack middle school girls at School A is 1:8 and at School B is 1:2. Another problem rega rding ethnicity is that the researcher asked the participants to choose the ethnic categ ory with which they most identified. Participant self-reporting bias must also be addressed as a limitation in this study. There is no way to know whether the particip ants responses accurately represent their experiences of relational aggression. The retrospective nature of the instruments required that participants reflect upon th e experiences they have had w ith relational aggression and their own responses/ behaviors over time. Fina lly, data was gathered relatively close to the end of the semester, which may ha ve affected students responses.

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73 Crothers, Field, and Kolbert (2005), Prinstein and LaGreca (2004), and Remillard and Lamb (2005) identified a number of variab les that influence re lational aggression for high school students, although none were found at the time of this study that focused on middle school students, such as loneliness, depression, global self-worth, poor academic achievement, learning difficulties, relationships with peers, relationships with parents and relationships with teachers. It must be recogn ized that existing differences within ethnic groups may affect perceptions and experien ces (Chang, 2003; French, Jansen, & Pidada, 2002). Such individual differences include level of ethnic identity, age, and socioeconomic status (Brody, Dorsey, Forehand, & Armistead, 2002; Chang, 2003; Ge, Brody, Conger, Simmons, & Murry, 2002). Implications for Practice Counselors and mental health professionals should be aware of the potential for racial and culture specific experiences among middle school girls pertaining to relational aggression. Guidance counselors could institute a questionnaire designed to assess and explore students potential general and cultural-specific experiences of relational aggression. This culturally sensitive protocol would help to further contextualize presenting concerns and potentially appropriate interventions (B rody, Dorsey, Forehand, & Armistead, 2002; Chang, 2003; French, Ja nsen, & Pidada, 2002; Ge, Brody, Conger, Simmons, & Murry, 2002), thus precipitati ng academic, social and developmental difficulties. Guidance counselors could also address some of these issues by working with other mental health prof essionals, such as community mental health centers, to create support and psychoeducational groups for middle school girls aimed at increasing coping skills for and/or mediating the effects of re lational aggression.

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74 Guidance counselors can create a larg e group classroom guidance lesson based upon the needs and age of the students they se rve. For example, a four-to-eight-week classroom guidance unit that addresses relati onal aggression, safe e xpression of feelings, thoughts, and desires, and cu ltural/gender/socioeconomic issues may have a positive impact on the relational styles students engage in with one another. Following this series of large group lessons, guidance counselor s can then implement a small group for students that may benefit from additi onal teaching and practice with positive interpersonal and communication skills. For stud ents with even greater needs, individual counseling sessions may be arranged to further facilitate healthy development. To meet the needs of teachers, parents, and the la rger community, guidance counselors can host open house events that discuss relational a ggression, positive ways to encourage and promote healthy development of girls, and offe r action steps that adults can take to use the knowledge they have gained. By increasing awareness, education, and outlining concrete behaviors for adults that will enhance the interpersonal, relationship, communication, and problem solving skills of girls, important adults can facilitate healthy development among girls. This pr evention strategy may reduce the need for intervention groups, juvenile justice programs, and eventually eras e the sexism girls experience in our society. Implications for Future Research Research that focuses primarily on relational aggression among middle school girls may provide a greater understa nding of interpersonal relati onships during middle school. Investigations that concentr ate on the development of adap tive interpersonal relationship skills may provide evidence that promot es positive communication and conflict

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75 resolution skills, enhances adolescent girl s emotional adjustment, and improves academic performance (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Bukowski, 2005; Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005; Dodge & Pe ttit, 2003; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Ladd, 1999; Masten & Coatsworth, 1998). Further investigation in to shy, aggressive, or unexpected friendship behavior, which has the potential to lead to peer rej ection, avoidance, or approval (Masten, 2005) is an important area for counselors to consider among middle school girl s. Peer rejection, peer avoidance, or peer approval may enhan ce or ameliorate emotional and behavioral symptoms, such as depression, loneliness, or happiness (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Masten, 2005), a nd therefore represen ts a worthy line of future inquiry. Likewise, peer relationships have the potential to reinforce or punish an individuals behavior and emotions depending upon the individuals desired reaction from peers (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwe ll, 2005; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996; Masten, 2005). Thus, depending upon the individuals exp ectations of the peer group and the peer groups reaction to the individua ls behavior, peer groups have the capacity to enhance or diminish maladjusted behaviors. Research re lated to the individuals expectations of the peer group and the peer groups reaction to the individuals be havior among middle school girls would benefit counselors and counselor preparation programs by enhancing the understanding of such friendship dynami cs, contributing to the prevention/ intervention of programs designed to positiv ely impact middle school girls friendship characteristics, and preparing parents, teacher s, and other community members to interact with this unique population.

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76 Another area for further research involv es relationships amon g shy and socially withdrawn middle school girls. Shyness a nd social withdrawal become increasingly problematic to peers as children transiti on from elementary to middle school (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, Booth-LaFor ce, & Burgess, 2006). To illustrate, researchers (Hart, C., Yang, Nelson, Robi nson, Olsen, Porter, Jin, Olsen, & Wu, 2000; Ladd & Burgess, 1999) have found that shy and socially withdrawn children do not seem to be rejected by their classmates in ear ly childhood. During middle to late childhood and early adolescence, however, many shy, socially withdrawn children experience rejection from their peer group (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). Furthermore, shy and withdr awn children become the targets of peer victimization (Hanish & Guerra, 2004). While shy and socially withdrawn children may remove themselves from the peer group due to discomfort and soci al anxiety, it is not known whether this discomfort is also overwhelming and intolerable when in the company of only one peer or a few close peers (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). Few research ers have examined social withdrawal at the dyadic level of social interaction (Schneider, 1999); thus, very little is known about the interpersonal relationships of socia lly withdrawn children (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-Krasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). Given the plethora of presumed advantages that friendship offers (e.g., suppor t of peers, positive communication skills) and the risks associated with not participati ng in such peer relati onships (e.g., loneliness, depression), an investigation of shy and soci ally withdrawn childrens participation in such relationships may further the understand ing of the specific risks associated with being shy and socially withdrawn during adolescence (Rubin, Wojslawowicz, Rose-

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77 Krasnor, Booth-LaForce, & Burgess, 2006). Thus an investigation of shy and socially withdrawn adolescent friendships may reveal insight into this relationship dynamic. Additionally, investigating whether frie ndships are important in maintaining aggression among middle school girls would benefit counselors and counselor preparation programs in terms of providing developmentally appropriate information to conceptualize, prevent/ intervene, and research relationally aggressive patterns for this population. To illustrate, Adams, Bukowski, a nd Bagwell (2005) and Grotpeter and Crick (1996) reported that investigating aggressive behaviors of indi viduals in the dyadic context of friendships revealed greater insight into the unde rstanding of peer experiences than studying group interactions (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996) though neither of the investiga tions focused exclusively on middle school girls. Furthermore, research conducted on dyadic relationships (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005) that focused on interpersonal perc eptions of adolescents reported that girls perceive the interpersonal char acteristics (e.g., social status and aggressiveness) of other girls more accurately than boys, while boys pe rceive the interpersona l characteristics of other boys more accurately th an girls (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005). Future research on consensus and degree of assim ilation to explain such perceptions (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005) among adoles cents, such as perceiving others as aggressive based upon the actor's gender and attr ibuting high or low so cial status to the actor (Card, Hodges, Little, & Hawley, 2005) would be beneficial among middle school girls. In a related line of inquiry, Grotpeter and Crick (1996) reported findings from a previous pilot study (Grotpeter, 1993) that exclusively investigated relationally

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78 aggressive girls in the fourth through fifth grades. This pilot study examined the friendship qualities present in relationally ag gressive girls' friendships and assessed the value of the friendship qualities to relationally aggressive girls (Grotpeter, 1993). Investigating the characteristic qualities of relationally ag gressive middle school girls' friendships to determine whether their relations hips include conflict a nd betrayal, ease of conflict resolution, intimate exchange, validation and cari ng, help and guidance, and companionship and recreation (Grotpeter, 1993) would enhance clinicians understanding of such friendships. The results of the pilot study (Grotpeter 1993) indicated that relationally aggressive girls in the fourth and fifth grades reported higher levels of intimate exchange and more relational aggressi on (i.e., intentionally spreading rumors or lies about a victim to damage the victim's status in the peer group, isolating the peer by refusing to speak to her or include her in ac tivities) present in their friendships than nonrelationally aggressive girls' friendships (Grotpeter, 1993). Research related to middle school girls levels of intimate exchange and relational aggression may provide insight into non-relationally aggressive girls' friends hips versus relationally aggressive girls friendships. The significance of peer, family, and school relationships as a pot ential mediator or moderator, risk factor, or pr otective factor in terms of di minishing negative influences and difficult life circumstances represents an area that has not been widely researched, despite the importance of these factors for adolescents (Bukowski & Adams, 2005; Dishion, Nelson, & Yasui, 2005; Ge, Brody, C onger, Simmons, & Murry, 2002; Masten, 2005). Furthermore, investigations that focus on intervention within peer interactions and study the degree of influence that peers have, the importance of reputation, and the

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79 quality of peer interactions are scarce. A multidimensional, comprehensive intervention study that targets peer intera ction may prevent or amelio rate deficits in social functioning, interpersonal relationships, and academic performance is needed (Adams, Bukowski, & Bagwell, 2005; Dishion, Nels on, & Yasui, 2005; Hawkins, Catalano, Kostermann, Abbott, & Hill, 1999; Hoza, Gerdes, Mrug, Hinshaw, Bukowski, Gold, et al., 2005; Masten, 2005). Internalizing symptoms (e.g., depression, low self-worth) and externalizing symptoms (e.g., gossiping, ostr acizing) may be am eliorated for middle school girls who are provided the opportunity to learn adaptive interpersonal relationship skills. Inquiry in to such internalizing and externalizing symptoms specific to middle school girls represents an important arena for future investigation. Summary This chapter provided a discussion of the results, the study limitations, implications for theory and practice, and recommendations fo r future research. Overall, the findings indicated significant relati onships between relational a ggression and age, relational aggression and socioeconomic status, rela tional aggression and ethnicity, relational aggression and age, socioeconomic status, a nd ethnicity. Margolin, (2001), Olweus (2001), and Salmivalli, Kaukiainen, and Voeten (2005) suggest programs designed to address relational aggression, in cluding feelings of loneliness, depression, and self-worth that would be particularly helpful. Th ey also suggest finding ways to encourage resources for high school students that may also assist in decreasing levels of psychological and interpersonal stress related to relational aggression. Because of the connection between e nvironmental factors and social and psychological functioning, interventions that do not attend to students social milieu may have limited effectiveness. Actively supportiv e, nondiscriminatory campus environments

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80 are associated with greater satisfaction in school, better adjustment, and persistence through graduation (Salmivalli, Kaukiainen, & Vo eten, 2005). This is particularly the case for middle school girls navigating th eir way through relationally aggressive relationships (Prinstei n, Cheah, & Guyer, 2005).

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81 APPENDIX A VERBATIM INSTRUCTIONS TO PARTICIPANTS Instru ctions for completing the Direct Indirect Aggression Scales [DIAS]: This booklet contains sentences that tell how some boys and gi rls think or feel or act. Read each sentence carefully. You will have five answer choices. Answer the questions by circling the number, which seems to desc ribe your behavior in the closest way. 0 = never, 1 = seldom, 2 = sometimes, 3 = quite often, 4 = very often Circle 0 if the sentence Neve r describes you or how you feel. Circle 1 if the sentence Seldom describes you or how you feel. Circle 2 if the sentence Sometimes Often describes you or how you feel. Circle 3 if the sentence Quite Of ten describes you or how you feel. Circle 4 if the sentence Very Of ten describes you or how you feel. Here is an example: 1. I like dogs. 0 1 2 3 4 2. I like doing homework. 0 1 2 3 4 If you wish to change an answer, mark an X through it and circle your new choice, like this: 2. I like doing homework. 0 1 2 3 4 Give the best answer for each sentence, even if it is hard to make up your mind. There are no right or wrong answers. Please do your best, tell the truth, and answer every sentence. Before starting, please fill in the information in the box above these directions.

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82 APPENDIX B RELATIONAL AGGRESSION SURVEYMIDDLE SCHOOL Your First N ame (Please Print) Your Last Name (Please Print) Grade Level (6-8) Directions: Tell us how you act when you have problems with or get angry with another classmate. Answer the questions by circling the number that seems to tell about your behavior in the closest way. 0 = never, 1 = seldom, 2 = sometimes, 3 = quite often, 4 = very often 1. Hit the person Im angry with? ................ .......................... ............ 0 1 2 3 4 2. Shut the other person out of the group of friends? .......................... 0 1 2 3 4 3. Yell at or argue with the person Im angr y with? .......................... 0 1 2 3 4 4. Become friends with another person as a kind of revenge? .....0 1 2 3 4 5. Kick the person Im angry with? ............... ...................................... 0 1 2 3 4 6. Ignore the person Im angry with? .............. ..................................... 0 1 2 3 4 7. Insult the person Im angry with? ............... ........................ ............. 0 1 2 3 4 8. Gossip about the one Im angry with? ................. 0 1 2 3 4 9. Trip the person Im angry with? ................ ....................................... 0 1 2 3 4 10. Tells bad or false stories about the pe rson Im angry with? ............. 0 1 2 3 4 11. Say Im going to hurt the person Im angry with? .................. 0 1 2 3 4 12. Plan secretly to bother the person Im an gry with? ........................ 0 1 2 3 4 13. Shove the person Im angry with? .................................... .............. 0 1 2 3 4 14. Say bad things behind the other persons back? ............... 0 1 2 3 4 15. Call the other person names? ............ ............................... 0 1 2 3 4 16. Tell my friends "Lets not be friends with him/her anymore!"? ...... .......... 0 1 2 3 4 17. Take things from the person Im angry with ? ..................... ............ 0 1 2 3 4 18. Tell the other persons secrets to a third person? ............. 0 1 2 3 4 19. Tease the person Im angry with? .............. ........................ ............. 0 1 2 3 4 20. Write notes to friends where I criticize the person Im angry with? .... 0 1 2 3 4 21. Push the person Im angry with down to the ground? .................... 0 1 2 3 4 22. Criticize the persons hair or clot hing? .............. ....... 0 1 2 3 4 23. Pull on the person Im angry with? ............ ....................................... 0 1 2 3 4 24. Try to get my friends to dislike the person Im angry with? ... 0 1 2 3 4

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83 APPENDIX C CHILDRENS SOCIAL BEHAVIOR SCALEPEER REPORT ITEM S Directions: Tell us how you act at school. Answer the qu estions by circling the number which seems to tell about your behavior in the closest way. 0 = Never, 1 = Seldom, 2 = Sometime s, 3 = Quite Often, 4 = Very Often 1. Im a good leader. 0 1 2 3 4 2. I do nice things for others. 0 1 2 3 4 3. I help others. 0 1 2 3 4 4. I cheer others up. 0 1 2 3 4 5. Im happy at school. 0 1 2 3 4 6. I hit or push others. 0 1 2 3 4 7. I yell at or call others mean names. 0 1 2 3 4 8. I start fights. 0 1 2 3 4 9. When Im mad, I get even by keeping th e other person from being in my group of friends. 0 1 2 3 4 10. I tell friends I will stop liking them unless they do what I say. 0 1 2 3 4 11. When Im mad at a person, I ignore them or stop talking to them. 0 1 2 3 4 12. I try to keep certain people from bei ng in my group of friends during activity or recess time. 0 1 2 3 4 13. I play alone a lot. 0 1 2 3 4 14. I am sad at school. 0 1 2 3 4 15. I am lonely at school. 0 1 2 3 4

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84 APPENDIX D SAMPLE OF ASSENT FORM Informed A ssent Protocol Title: Relational Aggression among Middle School Girls. Please read this consent document carefully before you decide to participate in this study. Purpose of the research study: The purpose of this study is to examine the correlates that define relational aggression among middle school girls, the relationship among these factors, and the association between the factors of relati onal aggression and the type of relational aggression (e.g., verbal, physical, withdrawal) exhibited among middle school girls. What you will be asked to do in the study: This is a survey study, so you will be asked to answer questions about your behavior and friendships. It is very important that you answer each question hones tly. The total time required is thirty minutes. Time required: 30 minutes during a study skills class. Risks and Benefits: We do not anticipate that you will incur any risk directly by participating in this study. The benefit of participation is that you w ill have a better understanding of your social interaction with others. Compensation: You participation in this research investig ation is voluntary and you will not receive any monetary compensation. Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Your information will be assigned a code number. The list c onnecting your name to this number will be kept in a locked file in my faculty supervisor's office. When the study is completed and the data have been analyzed, the list will be destroyed. Your name will not be used in any report. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is comple tely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at anytime without consequence. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Aprille Dallape, Graduate Student, Depart ment of Counselor Education, 1215 Norman Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611; ph 392-0731. Edil Torres-Rivera, PhD, College of Education, 1215 Norman Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611; ph 392-0731. Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: UFIRB Office, Box 112250, University of Fl orida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250; ph 3920433.

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85 Agreement: I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the adapted CBT STOP Bullying small group sessio ns and/or individual sessions (if I am selected) and I have received a copy of this description. Participant: _____________________________ Date: _______________ Principal Investigat or: _____________________ Date: _______________

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86 APPENDIX E COVER LETTER TO PARENTS Department of Counselor Education PO Box 117046 University of Florida Gainesville, FL 32611 Dear Parent/Guardian, I am a graduate student in the Department of Counselor Education at the University of Florida, conducting research on relational aggression of middle school girls under the supervision of Dr. Edil Torres-Rivera. Rela tional aggression may be more common in adolescent girls relationships and can incl ude behaviors such as gossiping, spreading rumors, and excluding particular girls from th e peer group. The purpose of this study is to examine the correlates that define rela tional aggression among mi ddle school girls, the relationship among these factors, and the asso ciation between the factors of relational aggression and the type of relational aggression (e.g., verbal, physical, withdrawal) exhibited among middle school girls. The results of the study may help school counselors, teachers, and administrators bett er understand relationa l aggression in early adolescent girls and allow them to desi gn instructional and intervention practices accordingly. These results may not directly help your child today, but your daughter may gain a better understanding of her relationship and social skills. With your permission, I would like to ask your child to volunteer for this research. Participants will be asked to complete a survey that inquires about her friendships and interactions with peers. Th e survey will be administered during the study skills class so that no participan t misses any academic courses. Participants will not have to answer any question they do not wish to answer. The procedure for responding to the assessments w ill be presented by the principle researcher or trained counselor during th e study skills class period. Th e thirty-minute questionnaire procedure will take place during the month of March. Although the participants will be asked to write their names on the questionnaires for matching purposes, their identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. We will replace their names with code numbers. Results will only be reported in th e form of group data. Pa rticipation or nonparticipation in this study will not affect the children's grades or placement in any programs. You and your child have the right to withdraw consent for your child's participation at any time without conse quence. There are no known risks, but your daughter may benefit from a better understandin g of your social inte raction with others. No compensation is offered for participation. Group results of this study will be available in August upon request. If you have any questio ns about this resear ch protocol, please contact me at (352) 392-0731 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Edil Torres-Rivera, at (352) 392-0731. Questions or concerns about your child's rights as research participant may be directed to the UFIRB office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433. Thank you, Aprille Dallape

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87 I have read the procedure described above I voluntarily give my consent for my child, _________________, to participate in Aprill e Dallape's survey study on relation aggression among middle school girls. I have received a copy of this description. ____________________________ ___________ Parent / Guardian Date ____________________________ ___________ 2nd Parent / Witness Date ____________________________ ____________ Principal Investigator Date

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88 APPENDIX F COVER LETTER TO ADMINISTRATORS Departm ent of Counselor Education PO Box 117046 University of Florida Gainesville, FL 32611 Dear Principal/ Director, I am a graduate student in the Depa rtment of Counselor Education at the University of Florida, conducting research on relational aggression of middle school girls under the supervision of Dr. Edil Torres-Rivera. The purpose of this study is to examine the correlates that define relational aggression among middle school girl s, the relationship among these factors, and the association betw een the factors of re lational aggression and the type of relational aggr ession (e.g., verbal, physical withdrawal) exhibited among middle school girls. The results of the st udy may help school counselors, teachers, and administrators better understand relati onal aggression and allow them to design instructional practices accordingly. These re sults may not directly help your students today, but they may gain a better und erstanding of their relationship and so cial skills. With your permission, I would like to ask your middle school to volunteer for this research. Participants will be asked to co mplete a survey that inquires about their friendships and interactions with peers. Th e survey will be administered during the study skills class so that no participant misses any academic courses. Participants will not have to answer any questions they do not wish to answer. The procedure for responding to the assessment tools will be presented by the principle researcher or a guidance couns elor during the study skills cl ass period. The thirty-minute questionnaire procedure will take place during the month of March. Although the participants will be asked to write their names on the questionnaires for matching purposes, their identity will be kept confiden tial to the extent provided by law. We will replace their names with code numbers. Resu lts will only be reported in the form of group data. You and your students have the right to w ithdraw consent for participation at any time without consequence. There are no known risks, but your students may benefit from gaining a better understanding of their relationship and social skills. No compensation is offered for participation. Group results of this study will be available in August upon request. If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contact me at (352) 392-0731 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Edil To rres-Rivera, at (352) 392-0731. Questions or concerns about your students' rights as research particip ant may be directed to the UFIRB office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 3920433. Thank you, Aprille Dallape

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89 I have read the procedure described above I voluntarily give my consent for my school, ____________________, to participate in Ap rille Dallape's survey study on relation aggression among middle school girls. I have received a copy of this description. _________________________________________ ___________ Principal / Director Date _________________________________________ ___________ Asst. Principal / Witness Date _________________________________________ ____________ Principal Investigator Date

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90 APPENDIX G COVER LETTER TO TEACHERS Departmen t of Counselor Education PO Box 117046 University of Florida Gainesville, FL 32611 Dear Study Skills Teachers, I am a graduate student in the Depa rtment of Counselor Education at the University of Florida, conducting research on relational aggression of middle school girls under the supervision of Dr. Edil Torres-Rivera. The purpose of this study is to examine the correlates that define relational aggression among middle school girl s, the relationship among these factors, and the association betw een the factors of re lational aggression and the type of relational aggr ession (e.g., verbal, physical withdrawal) exhibited among middle school girls. The results of the st udy may help school counselors, teachers, and administrators better understand relati onal aggression and allow them to design instructional practices accordingly. These re sults may not directly help your students today, but your students may gain a better unde rstanding of their relationship and social skills. With your permission, I would like to ask your study skil ls class to volunteer for this research. Participants will be asked to complete a survey that inquires about their friendships and interactions with peers. The survey will be administered during the study skills class so that no participan t misses any academic courses. Participants will not have to answer any questions they do not wish to answer. The procedure for responding to the assessment tools will be presented by the principle researcher or a guidance couns elor during the study skills cl ass period. The thirty-minute questionnaire procedure will take place during the month of March. Although the participants will be asked to write their names on the questionnaires for matching purposes, their identity will be kept confiden tial to the extent provided by law. We will replace their names with code numbers. Resu lts will only be reported in the form of group data. Participation or nonparticipation in this study will not affect the students' grades or placement in any programs. You and your students have the right to w ithdraw consent for participation at any time without consequence. There are no known risks, but your students may benefit from a better understanding of their relationship a nd social skills. No co mpensation is offered for participation. Group results of this study will be available in August upon request. If you have any questions about this research pr otocol, please contact me at (352) 392-0731 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Edil Torre s-Rivera, at (352) 392-0731. Questions or concerns about your students' ri ghts as research participant ma y be directed to the UFIRB office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433. Thank you, Aprille Dallape

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91 I have read the procedure described above I voluntarily give my consent for my study skills class, ____________________, to particip ate in Aprille Dallape's survey study on relation aggression among middle school girls. I have received a copy of this description. _________________________________________ ___________ Teacher Date _________________________________________ ___________ Teaching Asst. / Witness Date __________________________________________ ____________ Principal Investigator Date

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92 APPENDIX H SAMPLE OF STANDARDIZED SURVEY ADMINISTRATION PROTOCOL The protoco l consists of a script that w ill be used to introdu ce the survey and the survey administrator, explain confidentiality, and a ddress any questions that participants may have. The researcher/ investigator will thank participants for taking part in the survey and review the consent form with them. In an effort to explain confidentiality, the researcher/ investigator will say that everythi ng the participants write on the survey or tell the survey administrator will stay in the room, unless they say they want to hurt themselves or others, kill themselves or othe rs, or that someone is hurting them. At this time, the researcher/ investigator will ask pa rticipants if they have any questions or comments about the survey and the e xpectations for participation.

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93 APPENDIX I COMPARISON SCHOOLS Comparison School A: Grades Offered Grades KG 12 This School ( State ) School Average Students & Faculty Total Students 1168 students % Male / % Female 52% / 48% Students by Grade Grade 6 114 students Grade 7 114 students Grade 8 115 students This School ( State ) School Average School ( FL ) School Average Teacher : Student Ratio 1:16 1:16 Students by Ethnicity This Schoo This School ( State ) School Average l ( FL ) School Average % American Indian 1% n/a % Asian 2% 2% % Hispanic 12% 25% % Black 25% 23% % White 61% 48% Additional Student Information This School ( State ) School Average % Eligible for Free Lunch 10% 42% % Eligible for Reduced Lunch 8% 9% % Migrant Students Enrolled n/a n/a

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94 Comparison School B: Students Total Students 921 students % Male / % Female 45% / 55% Students by Grade Grade 6 289 students Grade 7 324 students Grade 8 307 students This School ( State ) School Average Teacher : Student Ratio 1:17 1:17 Students by Ethnicity This School ( State ) School Average % American Indian n/a n/a % Asian 9% 2% % Hispanic 2% 24% % Black 57% 24% % White 31% 50% % Unknown 1 % n/a Additional Student Information This School ( State ) School Average % Eligible for Free Lunch 49% 44% % Eligible for Reduced Lunch 6% 11% Note: Data has been gathered from several government and comm ercial data sources. School data reflects years 2002-04 statistics (most recent years available). Demographic data reflects year 2000 statistics.

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95 REFERENCES Ada ms, R., Bukowski, W., & Bagwell, C. (200 5). Stability of aggr ession during early adolescence as moderated by reciprocat ed friendship status and friends aggression. International Journal of Behavioral Development 29 (2), 139-145. Adler, P.A., & Adler, P. (1995). Dynamics of inclusion and exclus ion in preadolescent cliques. Social Psychology Quarterly, 58 145-162. Adler, P.A., & Adler, P. (1998). Peer Powe r: Preadolescent Culture and Identity. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Agresti, A., & Finlay, B. (1997). Statistical Methods fo r the Social Sciences 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Artz, S. (1998). Where have all the school girls gone? Violent girls in the school yard. Child & Youth Care Forum 27 (2), 77-109. Bagwell, C., Newcomb, A., & Bukowski,W. (1998). Preadolescent friendship and peer rejection as predictors of adult adjustment. Child Development, 69 (1), 140. Beane, A. (2000). The bully-free classroom In A. Beane (Ed.), The Bully-Free Classroom: Over 100 Tips and St rategies for Teachers K-8 Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing. Boivin, M., Hymel, S., & Bukowski, W. ( 1995). The roles of social withdrawal, peer rejection, and victimization by peers in predicting l oneliness and depressed mood in childhood. Development and Psychopathology, 7 765-785. Brendgen, M.,Vitaro, F.,&Bukowski,W. (2000). Deviant friends and early adolescents emotional and behavioral adjustment. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 10 (2), 173.3w Brody, G., Dorsey, S., Forehand, R., & Armistea d, L. (2002). Unique and protective contributions of parenting and classroom processes to the adjustment of African American children living in single-parent families. Child Development, 73 274286. Cairns, R., Xie, H., & Leung, M. (1998). Th e popularity of friendships and the neglect of social networks: Towards a new bala nce. In W.M. Bukowski & A.H. Cillessen (Eds.), Sociometry Then and Now: Building on Six Decades of Measuring Experiences with the Peer Group New Directions for Child Development, 80. San Fran csico: JosseyBass. Caldwell, M., Rudolph, K., Troop-Gordon, W., & Kim, D. (2004). Reciprocal influences among relational self-views, social disengagement, and peer stress during early adolescence. Child Development, 75 1140-1154.

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106 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Aprille Dallape was born in 1977, in Sarasota F lorida. The oldest of two daughters, she grew up mostly in Bradenton, Florida, graduating from Manatee High School in 1995. She earned her B.S. in psychology, with a minor in education, and her M.Ed./ Ed.S. in mental health counseling from the Un iversity of Florida (UF) in 1999 and 2002, respectively. Upon graduating in August 2002 with her M.E d./Ed.S. in mental health counseling, Aprille accepted a position as a counselor with a nonprofit youth runaway shelter. Then, Aprille pursued her interests related to adol escent substance abuse treatment and accepted a supervisory position in Sarasota. As her passion for youth and family mental health, substance abuse, and school-re lated treatment issues develo ped, Aprille returned to the University of Florida to further her educa tion. At the completion of her Ph.D. program, Aprille is looking forward to employment with the United States Navy as an education advisor.