The role of the school environment in relational aggression and victimization.J Youth Adolesc. 2013 Feb; 42(2):235-49.JY
Research conducted over the last decade has documented both the high rates of and serious consequences associated with both victimization and perpetration of relational aggression. This study examines risk for involvement in relational aggression and victimization among middle school youth, evaluating both individual beliefs about violence, as well as aspects of the school environment, including interpersonal school climate and school responsiveness to violence. A sample of 5,625 primarily urban minority middle school youth (49.2 % female) participating in a violence prevention project completed measures of relational aggression and victimization as well as indicators of individual beliefs about aggression, school norms for aggression, student-teacher and student-student interpersonal climate, and school responsiveness to violence. Unlike results previously found for physical aggression, no school-level indicator of climate was related to relational aggression or victimization. However, individual beliefs about aggression and individual perceptions of the school environment were related strongly to both the perpetration of and victimization by relational aggression. These results suggest not only that individual beliefs and perceptions of the school environment are important in understanding perpetration and victimization of relational aggression, but also that risk for involvement in relational aggression is distinct from that of physical aggression. Implications for school interventions are discussed, as well as suggestions for future research.