With the end of the year approaching, I’m thinking back on what I set my original goal to be for this project. I knew I had a passion for learning about the reasoning behind people’s actions, and why socially aggressive behaviors exist among us. This prompted me to shoot for two things: a deeper understanding of social aggression and related topics, and to make any kind of change within my own community.
Like any research project, I had some small setbacks and some pretty large ones, too, but it ultimately helped me learn how to persevere and led me down paths that I had not originally intended. And while I did accomplish both of my goals to a certain extent, one thing became very apparent to me near the end of my project: I had learned much more about who I am as a person than ever before. Throughout my research, I couldn’t help but consider my own actions and existing biases or ways in which I treat others. While that wasn’t the goal of the project, my own increased self awareness has helped me improve the community through my own actions.
Last week, I sent out the survey I had created to the school, in order to measure the amount of social aggression through my peers’ observations. Honestly, I was very excited to get the results back and see what the other students in the school thought of our culture. The questions consisted of a ranking-system, in which students could choose how often a certain type of social aggression happens through a never-to-always scale. Unsurprisingly, most of the answers came back mostly neutral (students had chosen the “somewhat agree/sometimes” option). However, once I began to analyze the data by a gender split, some very interesting outliers became apparent to me. Nearly 87% of female-identifying students said that they have witnessed/are witnessing socially aggressive behaviors frequently at our school, whereas only 62% of male-identifying students said they have (still a very high number, but significantly lower than females). This gap was clearly shown throughout other questions, in which females typically ranked specific socially aggressive behaviors as much more frequent than males. The data also showed that socially aggressive behaviors such as gossiping and spreading rumors were almost always ranked very frequent among girls, whereas almost always ranked as nonexistent among boys. However, areas in which males showed more tendency to carry out socially aggressive behaviors included cyberbullying or embarrassing another person online. The two areas in which both male and female voted similarly were “belittling another person due to their gender, race, and sexual orientation” and “treating a younger person as inferior due to their age/grade level”, where more than 60% of both groups voted often or always.
Among the questions regarding specific locations at school in which students witness social aggression, the data concludes that for females, areas with the highest levels of social aggression include the dorms (80% voted often/always), the dining hall (78%), and during sports practices (67%). For males, most frequent areas of social aggression include the dorms (79%), the Day Student Lounge (62%), and the dining hall (57%).
While I wish I had the answer as to how to eliminate social aggression at our school, I do not. However, the first step to lessening an issue is to recognize it first, and point out specific areas which we can improve. Although I wish I had more time to dive deeper into analysis and research ways which we can tackle specific types of social aggression that appear most prominent in our community, the school year is coming to a close in a few short weeks. I am more than confident that my passion for this issue will persist, and I will continue to seek solutions alongside the incredible peers of mine who share a common interest. This survey, along with my work this semester, is just the beginning of a very long path to continuing to better the world around us.
Thanks for reading,