We all have the bullied kid in our mind. The skinny guy, the fat girl, the kid with no friends. The NERD. Well, guess what? Being bullied isn’t just for “losers”. It happens more often than not to “popular” kids, too.
An article on Today Health talks about how “It’s Not Just Drama” and a recent study published which says: “The traditional pattern of bullying is pretty well established: the kids who are being picked on are vulnerable in some way. They’ve violated the unwritten rules of high school life,” says Robert Faris, lead author of the report and an associate professor at the University of California, Davis. “It turns out that as kids are increasing their status they’re also becoming more attractive as targets for their rivals.”
Specifically, as a kid climbs his or her way into the school’s upper echelons of popularity, that kid’s chance of being bullied increases by more than 25 percent, Faris said. The findings were true for both guys and girls. In the new paper, published Tuesday in the journal American Sociological Review, Faris and his colleagues call these students the “unnoticed victims of school-based aggression: popular students near the hub of school social life, hidden in plain sight.”
An article by Stephanie Pappas says that a lot of bullying is causes by “Normative targeting” – being bullying because you’re not thought of as being part of the “normal” part of High School life, but there is also “instrumental targeting.” These are ” interactions use bullying as an instrument or tool to gain social status.” Research shows that this kind of bullying works. And not many anti-bullying programs are focused on the popular kids- they are usually focus on the kids on the outside.
I can tell you, from experience, that this is true. How my newly popular daughter quickly became one of the most hated people in school, and how it became the “game of the day” to pick on Ally. One day, many of her class participated in “don’t talk to Ally Day” where anyone around here would immediately go silent.
It became a project- to trample her down and those not as popular
tramped her down as they climbed over her to attain more popularity.
This treatment lead to her deep depression, and eventual suicide attempt. It took a lot of work to get her healthy again. And although she might not be “popular” now, she says she doesn’t want to be. The pressures of being popular are too great.
“Parents need to stop assuming that just because your child is popular, especially with high social status, that everything between the kids is always great,”
says Rosalind Wiseman, author of “Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World. I was certainly guilty of that. My daughter had attained a social status that was MUCH higher than the one she had (and was bullied at) in a different state. She had lots of “friends” and I chose to see what I wanted to see, rather than what her actions, and my gut were saying: she was in trouble. I wanted to think it was just typical teen drama, when it was so much more.
So don’t think simply because your child is “popular” and has a lot of friends, she’s safe, (Him too- it’s more prevalent in girls but boys are bullied as well) If she complains a lot about “drama” – LISTEN UP! It could be bulling going on. Talk to your teen and let them know that they have a right to stand up for themselves, and that bullying isn’t to be tolerated.