February 8th, 2011
12:00 AM ET
Kids and aggression: Popularity matters
Bullying is all too common, with studies showing as many as 160,000 students skip school every weekday to avoid the torment, the National Education Association has found.
Now there's research suggesting that aggression increases with peer status, meaning popular kids are the ones who are tormenting others. But here's the twist: Those who are most popular, at the top of the social hierarchy, are the least aggressive.
"They have much more to gain by being nice when they’re up at that level than by being cruel," theorized lead author Robert Faris, assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Davis. Alternatively, it could be that the most popular kids are "simply different and incredibly nice people."
The study, appearing in the journal American Sociological Review, also found that kids who are the least popular are also among the least likely to torment others.
Researchers used data from nearly 4,000 ninth- and 10th-graders who participated in The Context of Adolescent Substance Use study, which is a long-term project that surveyed students in three counties in North Carolina in public schools. This new study on popularity and aggression followed the kids for the 2004 to 2005 school year. A limitation is that the authors did not interview the participants to get further context about the students' thoughts and feelings.
The research looked at physical, verbal and indirect aggression, which includes spreading rumors or ostracizing others. Study authors asked participants to name everyone they had been mean to, and everyone who had picked on them. They also had to state the nature of the unkindness, whether it be physical violence or name-calling or gossiping.
It appears that it didn't matter what kind of aggression was involved - the popular (but not most popular) kids are more likely to be perpetrators, and it gets worse as you climb the social ladder (until you hit the highest rung).
"We can conclude that rates of aggression generally increase as kids gain status," Faris said.
At the core of bullying is a relationship issue, said Michele Borba, author of "The Big Book of Parenting Solutions," who was not involved in the study. Kids are craving to fit in and be included, but don't know how. Those at the second tier of popularity don't have a platform of security, and use bullying as a way of gaining influence.
Researchers do not know whether young people see their aggression as a means to an end, but this is one theory the results support.
Given that the kids who are picking on one another are getting influence from others, an appropriate intervention would be to focus on the kids who aren't involved in aggressive behavior, Faris said
"If you target the bystanders that might have stronger effects on school climate than focusing on particular bullies and victims," he said.
It's crucial to create a school culture where bullying is not acceptable, Borba agreed.
Promoting that attitude to the bystanders will help undermine the power of the kid trying to be the bully, she said.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
Good day! I could have sworn Iíve been to your blog before but after going through a few of the posts I realized itís new to me. Nonetheless, Iím definitely pleased I discovered it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!
You ought to take part in a contest for one of the most useful blogs online. I will highly recommend this blog!
This is a topic that is close to my heart... Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact details though?
Itís hard to come by knowledgeable people in this particular subject, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks
Hi there! This article couldnít be written much better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I'll forward this information to him. Fairly certain he's going to have a good read. Thank you for sharing!
After looking into a number of the articles on your web site, I truly appreciate your technique of blogging. I saved it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website as well and tell me how you feel.
Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much, However I am experiencing difficulties with your RSS. I donít know the reason why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anybody else getting similar RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!
This is a great tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very precise informationÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!
Everything is very open with a very clear description of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is very helpful. Thank you for sharing!
Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the website is really good.
Right here is the perfect site for anybody who wishes to find out about this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really will need toÖHaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject that has been discussed for years. Great stuff, just wonderful!
Excellent post. I will be going through some of these issues as well..
This site certainly has all of the information I wanted about this subject and didnít know who to ask.
This is the right webpage for everyone who wishes to understand this topic. You understand so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need toÖHaHa). You certainly put a fresh spin on a subject which has been written about for a long time. Excellent stuff, just great!
Saved as a favorite, I like your blog!
Hello there! This blog post couldnít be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I will send this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!
erectile dysfunction symptoms https://pharmaceptica.com/
An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast due to the fact that I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this topic here on your website.
This is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate informationÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!
Next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't fail me as much as this particular one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read through, but I really believed you'd have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you can fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.
Your style is unique compared to other folks I've read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this page.
Everything is very open with a precise clarification of the issues. It was really informative. Your site is very helpful. Many thanks for sharing!
This is a topic which is near to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?
An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a friend who was conducting a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me lunch simply because I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about this subject here on your blog.
A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you ought to write more about this subject matter, it may not be a taboo matter but generally people don't discuss these subjects. To the next! Kind regards!!