Child & Youth Care Forum

, Volume 36, Issue 5–6, pp 195–211 | Cite as

Why Social Networks Matter: A Structural Approach to the Study of Relational Aggression in Middle Childhood and Adolescence

Original Paper


Prior studies have addressed the influence of individual-level demographic variables on relational aggression among children and adolescents, resulting in little information about effective points of intervention. This paper argues that the inherently social nature of relational aggression warrants an examination of the effects of peer social network features on these behaviors. Specifically, the paper reframes the literature linking two individual-level variables (sex and age) to relational aggression from a contextual perspective that considers peer social networks. Moreover, the paper offers implications regarding how these reframed findings can be applied to the development of effective prevention and intervention programs and future research efforts.


Relational aggression Indirect aggression Social aggression Peer social networks Intervention Sex Age Development Middle childhood Early adolescence 



I would like to thank Marc Atkins, David Henry, Zachary Neal, and Olga Reyes for their thoughtful comments on earlier versions of this article.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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