Relational aggression and physical aggression among adolescent Cook Islands students

Page, Angela and Smith, Lisa F (2016) Relational aggression and physical aggression among adolescent Cook Islands students. Issues in Educational Research, 26 (1). pp. 98-116.


Both physical and relational aggression are characterised by the intent to harm another.
Physical aggression includes direct behaviours such as hitting or kicking; relational
aggression involves behaviours designed to damage relationships, such as excluding
others, spreading rumours, and delivering threats and verbal abuse. This study extended
research conducted in New Zealand (Page & Smith, 2012) to explore perceptions of
Physical Aggression (PA) and Relational Aggression (RA) of Year 7 to 13 boys and girls
(n = 443) and their teachers (n = 8) in the Cook Islands. It also investigated teachers’
strategies used to manage aggression. Using a mixed-methods approach, results indicated
that there was no gender difference in the perpetration of PA. Girls, however, were more
likely to perpetrate and be targets of RA than were boys, but were more likely than boys
to act in prosocial ways. Boys were more likely to be targets of PA. PA and RA were
highly correlated for both genders. Finally, teachers’ perceptions of RA and PA
behaviours corresponded with those of the students, but their perceptions of effective
strategies differed from those of the students. The findings are discussed in terms of
developing strategies for building healthy relationships within Cook Islands’ schools.
Te manako ra tona au taeake e koia tikai aia, ia matou ra, e kite kore aia. Kare paa
tona au taeke e kite ana e, te tamaemae ra aia i te tangata. Ka akaranga au e, e
tangata viivii e te kino tikai aia.
His friends think he is awesome but we think he is dumb. I don’t think his friends
realise he is hurting people. I am going to describe him as cruel.

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