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New study focuses on “who” of bullying, when the “how” also merits scrutiny

0060-0808-1213-2001MVP jocks who perform “swirlies” on nerds and take their lunch money, cheerleaders tutored by smart girls whom they deny public acknowledgement of existence— typical bullies, right?

Turns out high school isn’t as Freaks and Geeks-esque as we thought.

A new study that surveys 3,700 8th, 9th and 10th-graders spanning three counties of North Carolina, reports that aggressiveness peaked at students ranking in the 98th percentile of popularity on the social chain.

The study, published in February’s American Sociological Review, says aggressiveness is a tool used to “get ahead” in social hierarchies, and best serves those sitting right below the most popular 2 percent mark.

Traditional bullying views have been obsolete for years.  In order to effectively prevent bullying and instate anti-bullying policies—such as the anti-bullying guidelines that focus on LGBT students by the CDC— schools need to be aware of the latest trends.

This study of who the bullies are seem rather irrelevant in the era of cyberbullying.  Since anonymity and the ability to target a “faceless” victim can be granted through mediums such as e-mail, text messaging, blogs etc., the identity of the perpetrator has become less and less predictable.

States that attempt to take preventative legal measures, such as the recent bill passed by the North Dakota Senate, and the schools within them must keep an eye out for the overwhelming presence of digital bullying.

According to an international survey analyzed by members of NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, victims of cyberbullying experience a higher level of negative mental health effects such as depression and feelings of isolation than victims of traditional bullying.

Another finding from the study states that cyberbullies show significantly lower depression levels than “cyber victims,” which is not the case in traditional bullying.

The disturbing implications of this finding are that these bullies do not feel responsible for their harmful actions and may even relish in the fact that they can so easily get away with the harassment.

Schools hold the burden to educate their students about cyberbullying and its harmful effects and incorporate it into enforced anti-bullying policies.

Melissa Major, spring intern

Naomi Dillon|February 9th, 2011|Categories: Governance, Educational Research, School Climate, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |


  1. Dr. Weber says:

    Your article is terrific and I am going to send it to the teachers at Byrd School!
    Dr. Weber

  2. Melissa Major says:

    Thank you Dr. Weber!

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