I am a huge admirer of the Ophelia Project and the work that they do. I received an email from them announcing the launch of their new blog! I was excited to hear about the blog because the content is of stories of student’s experiences of relational aggression. The tag line to their blog is, “Because everyone deserves to feel safe and accepted.”
I conceptualize relational aggression as a different type of bullying. The Ophelia Project defines relational aggression as:
… behaviors that harm others by damaging, threatening to damage or manipulating one’s relationships with his/her peers, or by injuring one’s feelings of social acceptance.
- Purposefully ignoring someone when angry (giving the “silent treatment”)
- Spreading rumors about a disliked classmate
- Telling others not to play with a certain classmate as a means of retaliation.
The blog posts are from targets and aggressors alike. The anonymity of the internet works in a young person’s favor in this blog, the shame that some of the students who bullied is clearly felt in reading the posts. When working with young people who bully, often their feelings about their feelings lead them to continue the bullying behavior. To avoid feeling ashamed and embarrassed they continue to bully.
To take ownership of unkind behavior is commendable and it helps a teenager grow in character. I would hope that by using the internet in this helpful and cathartic way, a safe cyberspace is made for our young people to grow in empathy.
Take a look at the site and I encourage you – kid, teens and adults – to share your story on the blog.
Student reading photo available from Shutterstock