What makes a bully? An interesting new study says it's not the most popular kids who pick on others -- it's the almost most-popular kids who are bullies.
The top 2 percent of a high school's social hierarchy are actually the least socially aggressive, along with those on the bottom. Maybe they have nothing to gain, or lose, by bullying. But it's the kids in the 98th percentile of popularity -- those still striving to make it to the top of the heap -- who are most likely to bully.
It's pretty amusing to think of researchers studying popularity data from high schools like it's the human genome code or something. But if it can actually cut down on bullying, then it's a good idea.
The co-author of the study, Robert Faris, an assistant professor of sociology at UC Davis, says intervention programs should be geared to the two-thirds of children who don’t participate in aggressive behaviors. “They need to learn to be less approving,” he says. “They’re the ones who give kids status.”
In other words, most kids aren't bullies. We just need to teach them to stand up to the bullies.
What do you think of the study? Have your children been affected by bullying?