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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 222087 Find in a Library
Title: Popularity of Middle School Bullies
Journal: Journal of School Violence  Volume:7  Issue:1  Dated:2008  Pages:65-82
Author(s): Peter Thunfors; Dewey Cornell
Date Published: 2008
Page Count: 18
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study investigated the peer popularity of middle school students involved in bullying.
Abstract: Study findings contradict the stereotype that middle school bullies are social misfits. In contrast, bullies were among the most popular students at the middle school. On average, they received 61 percent more popularity nominations than students uninvolved in bullying, or six times as many nominations as victims. Nearly 50 percent of the peer-identified bullies fell into the top third of popularity for student body, whereas just 11 percent of the victims were categorized as popular. Instead of suffering social repercussions from the maltreatment of their peers, the majority (76 percent) of bullies were either popular or average in their popularity status. Although one might expect that students recognized as bullies by their peers would be unpopular, these findings convey the opposite view that students actually afford higher popularity status to their peers that bully. The positive relationship between bully status and popularity raises the possibility that bullying is a successful strategy that may facilitate attainment of popularity. Bullying may represent an adaptive strategy for obtaining social dominance, and at least in middle school, a strategy that may be successful when measured in terms of peer popularity. The success of this strategy, however, does not exclude the viability of prosocial strategies and kindness, humor, and generosity. The high popularity status of many bullies does not necessarily imply that students were among the most well-liked in the middle school. Popularity and likability are constructs that tend to be associated with different characteristics. Students may be disliked, but regarded as popular. Furthermore, students can be popular among their immediate peers despite mean and aggressive behaviors, such as bullying, that caused them to be disliked by many other students. The sample consisted of the entire enrollment (379 students) of a suburban middle school in Virginia. Figure, notes, references
Main Term(s): Bullying; Peer influences on behavior; Public schools
Index Term(s): Antisocial attitudes; Behavior patterns; Behavioral and Social Sciences; Individual behavior; Problem behavior; Virginia
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