Kids and aggression: Popularity matters
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.

soundoff (1,074 Responses)
  1. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    This page certainly has all of the information and facts I wanted concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 26, 2021 at 05:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. pharmaceptica.com

    what are the side effects of hydroxychloroquine https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 26, 2021 at 05:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Repair Huntington Beach

    That is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate informationÖ Thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!


    June 26, 2021 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Nearest RV Repair

    This website was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Appreciate it!


    June 26, 2021 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Marilee Brulotte


    June 26, 2021 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Bureaucratic Leadership

    I need to to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I've got you saved as a favorite to look at new things you postÖ


    June 26, 2021 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Leadership Goals

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was conducting a little research on this. And he in fact bought me lunch because I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this subject here on your internet site.


    June 26, 2021 at 19:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Elon Musk Leadership Style

    You're so awesome! I don't think I've truly read through something like this before. So wonderful to discover another person with unique thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This website is something that's needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!


    June 26, 2021 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Personal Leadership Philosophy


    June 26, 2021 at 23:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Servant Leadership Examples

    Great article. I am dealing with a few of these issues as well..


    June 27, 2021 at 05:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. ben shapiro podcast

    I truly love your site.. Great colors & theme. Did you build this web site yourself? Please reply back as Iím planning to create my very own site and want to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Thanks!


    June 27, 2021 at 05:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. chatty broads podcast

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It's always helpful to read content from other writers and practice something from other web sites.


    June 27, 2021 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Leadership Challenges


    June 27, 2021 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Transactional Leadership

    I really like it when individuals get together and share ideas. Great blog, continue the good work!


    June 27, 2021 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Nearest RV Repair


    June 27, 2021 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Repair Seal Beach


    June 27, 2021 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Sprinter Van Conversion

    Itís nearly impossible to find well-informed people about this subject, however, you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 27, 2021 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Body Damage Shop

    Your style is really unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this site.


    June 27, 2021 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Los Angeles Sprinter Repair

    Hi! I just want to give you a big thumbs up for the excellent information you have got here on this post. I'll be coming back to your website for more soon.


    June 27, 2021 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Sprinter Van Maintenance Shop Near Me

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly feel this web site needs far more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the info!


    June 27, 2021 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Mercedes Diesel Repair


    June 28, 2021 at 05:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Specialty Van Repair


    June 28, 2021 at 06:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Van Door Repair

    Very good info. Lucky me I recently found your site by chance (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!


    June 28, 2021 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Rv Alignment


    June 28, 2021 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    This website was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Cheers!


    June 28, 2021 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. 2006 Dodge Sprinter 2500 Heater Control Repair


    June 28, 2021 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa


    June 28, 2021 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. High Top Van Repair Shop Near Me

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Many thanks!


    June 28, 2021 at 16:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Rv Upholstery Shop

    Greetings, I believe your site could possibly be having internet browser compatibility problems. Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, fantastic site!


    June 28, 2021 at 19:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Approved Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Repair Places Near Me

    I wanted to thank you for this good read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I've got you bookmarked to look at new stuff you postÖ


    June 28, 2021 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Mercedes Benz Dealer Service Sprinter Near Me 91605


    June 28, 2021 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Sprinter Side Door Repair

    Good info. Lucky me I recently found your website by accident (stumbleupon). I have book marked it for later!


    June 28, 2021 at 22:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Repair Santa Ana


    June 28, 2021 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Repair Shop


    June 28, 2021 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RV Repair Huntington Beach


    June 29, 2021 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Repair San Clemente California


    June 29, 2021 at 01:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Repair Orange County California

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you, However I am encountering problems with your RSS. I donít know the reason why I can't join it. Is there anyone else having similar RSS problems? Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    June 29, 2021 at 03:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Van Technician Shop

    This page truly has all the information I needed about this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 29, 2021 at 04:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Repair Around Me


    June 29, 2021 at 05:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. I really hope to check out the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own site now 😉


    June 29, 2021 at 06:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Repair My 2006 Dodge Sprinter 3500 Rv


    June 29, 2021 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Repair California


    June 29, 2021 at 10:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Repair Near My Location

    I truly love your site.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you create this site yourself? Please reply back as Iím trying to create my own website and would love to know where you got this from or what the theme is named. Appreciate it!


    June 29, 2021 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Ford Transit Conversion

    Very good info. Lucky me I recently found your blog by chance (stumbleupon). I've bookmarked it for later!


    June 29, 2021 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Camper Van Repair Shop Near Me


    June 29, 2021 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Conversion Shop


    June 29, 2021 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Peninsula Daily News

    Very good article.Really thank you! Fantastic.


    June 29, 2021 at 20:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Mercedes Sprinter Cowel Panel Rust Repair


    June 29, 2021 at 21:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Repair Cost On Mercedes Sprinter Van

    I love it whenever people come together and share ideas. Great website, continue the good work!


    June 29, 2021 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Leave a Reply to AL


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

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.