A high school sophomore takes two kitchen knives to his school and goes on a stabbing frenzy in the hallway of his high school wounding 22 people. According to his lawyer, he was well liked and not a loner. The typical bullied pattern of a loner, social awkward teen may not fit this time.
Bullying is complicated because it doesn’t always fit a specific pattern. In fact, bullies also look to target a group you might not expect–the social climbers. Climbing the social popularity ladder makes you a target for gossip, harassment and physical attacks for those who compete for status. But once you reach the top of popularity, the risk goes down.
The consequences of being bullied–depression, anxiety, anger and withdrawal also seem to be worse in those who are the more popular victims.
These are the conclusions of researchers at the University of California-Davis. Moving up in popularity from the 50th percentile to the 95th percentile can be dangerous. Bullies like to have power over people and one way to get that power is to harass those trying to gain social status. Pick on the kid trying to rise in popularity. It’s rivalry at its worse.
The take away from this and other studies is that bullying impacts a wide range of kids, not just the loner, socially awkward kid. Thus, anti-bully programs must address the entire student body. Rather than targeting a group of disenfranchised kids, target all kids in schools and teach them that bullying is not acceptable under any circumstances. And more importantly, we need to get at why so many kids think violence is a solution to anything!