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Abstract

The current study considers how the structure of peer networks facilitates or constrains children's opportunities to engage in relationally aggressive behaviors such as social exclusion and rumor spreading. Specifically, the influence of two network features, centrality and density, on relational aggression are explored using grade-level behavioral and social network data collected on a demographically diverse sample of 144 third through eighth grade urban elementary school students. As hypothesized, these network features influenced levels of teacher-rated and peer-nominated relational aggression beyond the effects of demographic characteristics (i.e., gender and grade). Results revealed that relational aggression is influenced not only by who children are, but also by where they are located in the peer context. Implications for future research and intervention are offered. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.