Relational aggression, such as malicious rumors, social exclusion and rejection, are considered something that girls do more often. The movie "Mean Girls" epitomized it to hilarious effect. A trio of scholars used surveys to show that boys are being shortchanged in popular accounts of mean-ness.
620 randomly selected sixth graders were followed through their senior year, filling out an annual survey talking about victimization. Using group-based trajectory modeling the female co-authors determined that boys are actually meaner than girls - or at least they brag about it more on surveys. Boys were more often to call themselves relational aggression perpetrators while girls reported being victims more.
This kind of indirect aggression is poorly defined but is linked to depression and anxiety. Unsurprisingly, over 90% of students claimed to be victims of relational aggression.
"Overall, we found relational aggression to be a very common behavior. Almost all of the students surveyed, 96 percent, had passed a rumor or made a nasty comment about someone over the course of the seven-year study," said Pamela Orpinas, a professor health promotion and behavior at the University of Georgia. "We have books, websites and conferences aimed at stopping girls from being aggressive, as well as a lot of qualitative research on why girls are relationally aggressive. But oddly enough, we don't have enough research on why boys would be relationally aggressive because people have assumed it's a girl behavior."
Their methods used three developmental trajectories of perpetration and three similar trajectories of victimization--low, moderate and high declining (that is, very high in middle school and declining in high school). They found that significantly more boys than girls fell into the two higher trajectories for relational aggression perpetration, while more girls than boys fell into the two higher trajectories for victimization.
Relational victimization is uncharted territory so it may not be conclusive but Orpinas argues that boys and girls should be treated equally in programs aimed at reducing relational aggression.