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Aggression in public schools focus of April 4 broadcast

In recent years, nonphysical aggression in schools has received increasing attention by the media and the popular press. In April and May of 2002, numerous journalists and talk show hosts discussed destructive forces in peer relationships including social exclusion, malicious gossip, and the formation of campaigns to destroy a child’s reputation.

Authors of the books “Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls” (Simmons, 2002) and “Queen Bees and Wannabees: How To Help Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence” (Wiseman, 2002), went on the talk show circuit, claiming that covert aggression is widespread, far more common among girls than boys, and as damaging to a child’s well-being as physical forms of aggression. They also asserted that these “alternative” forms of aggression have been all but ignored by researchers in developmental and clinical psychology.

In the April edition of “Extension Engaged” — the monthly video series produced by WSU Cooperative Extension — Nicole Werner, assistant professor of human development at Washing State University, will discuss the accuracy of these claims by sharing her knowledge and experience while conducting research on nonphysical forms of aggression over the last seven years. Specifically, she will discuss relational aggression, characterized by attempts to harm others through damage to, or manipulation of, peer relationships.

She will relate what researchers have discovered about relational aggression — how it is similar to and different from physical aggression, developmental and sex differences in relational aggression, and factors associated with children’s use of relational aggression. In addition, she will discuss her involvement with the Ophelia Project, a nonprofit organization that has developed a school-based prevention program targeting relational aggression. The segment will conclude with suggestions and resources for schools.

The program will broadcast 8:30 – 9:30 a.m., April 4. To be a part of the studio audience, go to the Food Science and Human Nutrition Building, Room T-101. To watch by satellite, tune to G3-03C. For satellite tuning assistance, call Jim Shelden at 335-9290. A test signal will be available at 8 a.m.

To see a videostream on the Internet, go to the CAHE Information Department webpage at and click on “Extension Engaged: nonphysical forms of aggression in schools.” Scott Fedale, 335-2952 or, has information.

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