'They turned around like I wasn't there': An analysis of teenage girls' letters about their peer conflicts

  • James V
  • Owens L
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Abstract

This study sought a clearer understanding of the aggressive behaviours and conflict resolution experiences of teenage girls. The participants were 39 Year 10 girls attending a single-sex school in metropolitan Adelaide, South Australia. The girls participated in a novel letter writing methodology designed to shadow adolescents' existing use of letters as a form of communication between peers and encourage candour in their responses. The predominant indirect behaviours included talking about other girls, ignoring, neglecting and excluding peers and giving nasty looks. The girls explained that the victimization was primarily related to the manipulation and maintenance of their peer social networks. High levels of trust and intimacy were invested in their friendships providing the ideal forum for pain to be inflicted in powerful and effective, yet discreet, relational forms against one another. Victimization by others generated confusion and pain and, at times, empathy for the victims by onlookers. Consistent with the indirect, relational nature of girls' victimization, in their resolution of conflicts, the girls often strove for the social support of peers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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Authors

  • Vennessa H. James

  • Laurence D. Owens

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