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Medical Journal of Zambia

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Relational Aggression in Adolescents at Selected Schools in Lusaka Urban

A Chirwa-Mwanza, JA Menon

Abstract


Background: School bullying and aggression among children and adolescents have been a source of concern for many researchers globally in the past few decades. Limited research exists regarding relational aggression, largely because research has focused historically on direct verbal and physical aggression, which is more commonly perpetrated by boys.

Methodology: The aim of the study was to explore relational aggression in selected schools of Lusaka. This was achieved by exploring the prevalence and assessing gender differences in relational aggression and evaluating the relation between relational aggression and the psychological wellbeing of perpetrators. This was a cross-sectional study. A sample of 86 (51%) boys and 84 (49%) girls in grades 6 and 8 was recruited from Lusaka urban schools. Measures used were Peer Experiences Questionnaire and self-report Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire - Youth version.

Results: Results from the study show that relational aggression is prevalent in the selected schools with boys and girls reporting involvement in relational aggression at least once or a few times in a month. More than a third (36 %) of participants reported high involvement in relational aggression. Gender difference in relational aggression was not significant. A significant positive relationship existed between relational aggression and psychological well-being of perpetrators with perpetrators showing more conduct problems, peer problems and hyperactivity.

Conclusion: The study concluded that relational aggression was prevalent in the selected schools, boys and girls engaged in relational aggression to the same degree and relational aggression was related to psychological well-being of perpetrators. An antibullying policy and counselling interventions should be developed to address relational aggression in schools.

Keywords: Relational aggression, adolescents, gender, psychological well-being




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