Verbal abuse in school Constructions of gender among 14 to 15 year olds

Verbal abuse has been identified as a common element in the life of children in school. This paper
explores how this discursive practice is used in the construction of masculinities and femininities
among children aged 14–15 through observations and interviews in classes in two schools in
Stockholm. Verbal abuse, often with sexual content, contributed to ‘toughness’, a central component
of hegemonic masculinity in the schools. Popular, tough boys generated most of the verbal
abuse, but were not necessarily regarded as verbally abusive; rather, responsibility for the bulk of
verbal abuse was attributed to ‘rowdy’ boys. Girls’ verbal abuse was not similarly advantageous for
their femininity; instead, both through being verbally abusive and being the target of abuse, girls
risked being positioned negatively. It appears that verbal abuse in school simultaneously orders
masculinities and femininities, and structures heterosexual relations between the genders.

Title in English: 
Verbal abuse in school Constructions of gender among 14 to 15 year olds