Relational aggression: The voices of primary school learners
The aim of this research was to explore and describe primary school learners’ experiences of relational aggression at school. This was done within a qualitative research design with a phenomenological approach. In order to give a voice to primary school learners’ lived experiences of relational aggression, 25 individual interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of learners from two primary schools in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District, North-West Province. Data analysis was done using Tesch’s systematic open coding process. Social Learning Theory underscored the theoretical foundation that emphasises relational aggression as a socially learned phenomenon through observation. Although existing theory supports the findings, the reality, however, is that the effects of relational aggression impede negatively on learners’ social and academic development and well-being. This jeopardises schools’ endeavours to effectively socialise learners in order to establish and maintain effective personal and social relationships. Curtailing relational aggression has the possibility of reducing other forms of aggression in schools and will enhance the creation of effective teaching-learning environments that are conducive to teaching and learning that will support the task of schooling, which is the socialisation of learners to optimally achieve their potential in schools. The article provides some suggestions to assist teachers in endeavours to effectively curtail relational aggression.
Keywords: aggression; experience; internal locus of control; life skills; learners; primary school; relational aggression; socialisation; well-being