In 2005, while taking coursework for a Master’s degree I came across the topic of relational aggression. I became concerned that I was not doing enough to help my students deal with this serious issue. I turned to my colleague, Nancy Ball, and discovered that she was teaching an anti-bullying program in her sixth-grade health class. She also felt that not enough was being done to address the issue of relational aggression among girls in our school.
After doing some research, I realized that this was a fairly new topic among educators and psychologists. The research gave a multitude of definitions for relational aggression, as well as proof of the detrimental effects. However, no research had been done on prevention or intervention programs targeting relational aggression, but all researchers concluded that these programs would be the most effective in combating this growing problem.
Shortly after, Nancy and I attended a conference entitled Mean Girls and found it to be most helpful. Now we were convinced more than ever that it was up to us to create a program to help our girls. Armed with a variety of resources and ideas we began to develop our GEMS program in the summer of 2006.
We were thrilled to have 100 percent participation in our afterschool sessions and have witnessed firsthand the positive results wrought by the implementation of this program. Due to this success, we were accepted to present our program at the Second Annual National Conference on Relational Aggression, Mean Girls and Other Forms of Bullying in Orlando, Florida June 21 – 23, 2008.
Now we are happy to offer a three-year program for other schools to use. It is our hope that through GEMS educators and other people who work with adolescent girls can have a positive impact on the way they view themselves and treat one another. Relational aggression no longer has to rule over the social interactions of young girls. We wish you the best of luck as you embark on this journey to end relational aggression.
Lauren Meek & Nancy Ball