When a child is bullied, whose responsibility is it? There are arguments and there are laws but as of now there are no specific answers. It seems to depend on where the bullying occurred and how the bullying was committed. Critics often blame the schools and some blame the parents but what does blame accomplish? The answer is absolutely nothing!
If you have children who are popular, you may think that they will not be bullying targets. That is not true. Since there are more people who are concerned about the causes and repercussions of bullying, more studies are being done.
The fact used to be that popular kids ruled the schools and sometimes that is still true but sometimes it is not. No longer are just the kids who are “different” victimized. There is a recent study that shows that the number of bullying targets who are high on the socially successful ladder in school are at an increased risk of being teased, ostracized and threatened.
Bullying Targets Can Be Popular
This may not make sense to you but there is an explanation about popular bullying targets that does make sense. The reality is that the kids who are “almost” as popular are targeting their rivals in order to knock them down a few rungs. That is the “cheaters” way of stealing their places on the top rung of the popularity ladder.
Robert Faris, associate professor of sociology at the University of California Davis and Diane Felmlee, professor of sociology at Pennsylvania State University investigated the subject of bullying targets. Their findings were published in American Sociological Review. They studied more than 4,200 students in the eighth, ninth, and tenth grades during the 2004-2005 school year.
In the fall, they asked students to record their five closest friendships from which they created a “map” that indicated the shortest paths to the most students with a higher social status. The questions were asked again in the spring of the same academic year. They compared the answers with reports of students being victimized. The victimization included verbal insults, physical aggression, being the target of damaging rumors, and continued and relentless harassment.
An example of their findings regarding popular bullying targets:
Students who started the academic year in the 50th popularity percentile and moved into the 95th popularity percentile had a 25% increased chance of being bullied over those who remained in the 50th popularity percentile. This pertained to both boys and girls.
To be continued.
First Photo: Steven Pisano
Second Photo: SLU Cook Business