When we think of kids who are being bullied we often think of the shy unpopular students, but new research is now shedding some light on how the popular kids are increasingly the targets of bullies. Within circles of friends, the ones most likely to become victims of bullies are those just under the top tier most popular students, like the homecoming queen’s best friend if you may.
Today reports about a University of California study that reveals how kids increase their chances of being bullied the more popular they become. The study’s lead author, Robert Faris, points out that his research suggests that as a child’s popularity increases at school, his or her chance of being bullied also goes up by 25 percent. Faris explains, “The traditional pattern of bullying is pretty well established: the kids who are being picked on are vulnerable in some way. They’ve violated the unwritten rules of high school life.” He adds, “It turns out that as kids are increasing their status they’re also becoming more attractive as targets for their rivals.”
The research also reaffirmed the suspicion that the insecure, “loner” type kids were more likely to become a victim of bullies. But what many parents may not realize is that their sociable, well adjusted kid who has no problem making loads of friends may also be dealing with bullies at school. Faris explains why he believes popular kids are targeted saying, “I think these kids are being targeted because they occupy desirable social positions that their rivals seek.”
Researchers also found that the popular kids’ reaction to bullying was often more dramatic than the less popular kids - showing more anger, depression and anxiety. Faris explains that this might have something to do with this being their first experience with being bullied where “unpopular” kids have had to deal with the anger and depression for longer. He also points out that popular kids may feel they have a lot more to lose, like their status and friends, when they are being bullied.
What do you think of the new study that finds popular kids are likely to be bullied?
How do you and your kids handle being bullied?