Volume 39, Issue 4 (2010)
Gossip on the Playground: Changes Associated With Universal Intervention, Retaliation Beliefs, and Supportive Friends
Sabina Low, Karin S. Frey, and Callie J. Brockman
Abstract. Relational forms of aggression are known to increase during the middle school years. To date, the majority of efficacy studies of elementary school-based programs have focused on the reduction of physical and direct verbal aggression, to the exclusion of effects on relational aggression. Steps to Respect: A Bullying Prevention Program is one exception, which explicitly addresses relational forms of aggression such as malicious gossip and social exclusion. The current study assessed the short-term efficacy of Steps to Respect on reducing observed malicious gossip on the playground. Beliefs about aggressive norms and friends’ social support were examined as moderators of program impact. Participants were 544 students from six schools in the Pacific Northwest. Mixed hierarchical modeling was used to test hypotheses. Results provide support for the effects of universal prevention programs on reducing relational aggression, and highlight the need to consider how aggression norms and supportive friends may impact victim responses and continued victimization.
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