Confronting Your Mean Girls


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Presented by Megan Houlihan & John Hernandez, Post University/University of Hartford
Presented at a NEACUHO Conference

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Confronting Your Mean Girls

  1. 1. Confronting your Mean Girls: Techniques inDeescalating Conflict among Residents John Hernandez Megan Houlihan
  2. 2. Learning Objectives & Outcomes• Participants will decipher when to best use the student conduct process as a tool when dealing with various types of escalating scenarios.• Participants will become familiar with current gender specific deescalating techniques.• Participants will further develop communication skills that can be applied when working thru the situation with "involved" parents.• Participants will gain working tools to better equip their living communities to develop positive resident-based resolutions.
  3. 3. Mean Girls Realities of Relational Aggression   What is Relational Aggression (RA)? Relational aggression is described as any behavior that is intended to harm someone by damaging or manipulating relationships with others (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). Unlike other types of bullying, relational aggression is not as overt, or noticeable as physical aggression.  However, the effects can be long lasting.
  4. 4. Types of RA There are two types of relational aggression:  proactive and reactive Proactive relational aggression is when behaviors are a means for achieving a goal. For example, Sarah may need to exclude Cindy from receiving a bid to rush her sorority in order to maintain her own social status. Reactive relational aggression is behavior that is in response to provocation, with the intent to retaliate. For example, Samantha’s roommate Jeri borrowed her Cashmere sweater and ruinedit by putting it in the dryer, so Samantha in-turn poured bleach in Jeri’s color load of clothes in the washer.
  5. 5. Why Do Girls Engage in Relational Aggression?• The usual motivation behind acts of relational aggression is to socially isolate the victim while also increasing the social status of the bully. Perpetrators might be driven by jealousy, need for attention, anger, and fear of (or need for) competition.• One reason girls choose this type of bullying rather than more direct acts of harassment is that the bully typically avoids being caught or held accountable.• Girls who appear the most innocent may indeed be the most hostile in their actions. These bullies are often popular, charismatic girls who are already receiving positive attention from adults. Because of their positive reputations, these girls may be the least likely suspects. Thus it can be very difficult to identify the perpetrators of acts of relational aggression, and victims can suffer for long periods of time without support.
  6. 6. Methods & Motivation• While relational aggression can take many forms, some of the methods include:Exclusion - Ignoring - Malicious gossip and rumor spreading Taunts and insults - Teasing - Intimidation Manipulative affection - Alliance building - Cyberbullying • Motivation for relational aggression can vary as widely as the methods.  However, most motivation includes: Fear - Power - Control Popularity - Security
  7. 7. Black & White Student Conduct• Length of Process• Public Safety/Other Department involvement• Who wins? Questions Do your campuses lump relational aggression and bullying together; are these truly the same category of situation? How does your campus address issues that arise in the classroom or off- campus that may find their way back into the residential area upon the student’s return?
  8. 8. Discussion• Gender Specific Deescalating Techniques• Parent Involvement/Overly Involved Parents• Proactive environment for student success• Effective programming
  9. 9. Resources Mean Girls Grown Up - Cheryl Dellasega 12 Strategies That Will End Female Bullying-Girls Wars Cheryl Dellasega & Charisse Nixon ReferencesMiller-Ott, A. E., & Kelly, L. (in press). Communication of female relational aggression in the college environment. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication.Kelly, L., & Miller-Ott, A. E. (2012, April). Young women’s use of electronic media to communicate relational aggression. Paper presented to the Communication and Technology Interest Group of the Eastern Communication Association. Contact Information John Hernandez, Megan Houlihan,