School playgrounds can often make the court of the Borgias seem like a vicarage tea party and clinical psychologist Rhiarne Pronk from Griffith University has been carrying out an 'in-depth' study of 'relational aggression' in a sample of 33 11-13 year-olds. She found that both boys and girls had personal experiences of unpredictable friendships, social exclusion, rumour and gossip. In the girls this took place in close friendship groups and involved dirty looks, being ignored or excluded and going behind other people's backs whereas in the boys it was more likely to happen in larger groups, be more direct and involve exclusion from games and sporting teams. Lack of social appeal and emotional reactiveness made children more likely to be victims but being too popular or talented could also lead to children being victimized.
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