It may come as a surprise to many that popular school kids are equally at risk of being bullied as the outcasts and this can lead to depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts.
Robert Faris of University of California Davis and Diane Felmlee of Penn State University addressed this issue in the journal American Sociological Review. "For most students, gains in status increase the likelihood of victimization and the severity of its consequences," they explain.
This, however, does not mean that stereotypical bullying victims – the outcasts – are less liable to the menace of bullying. The research highlights the other, less portrayed, side of the picture.
Though it is a relatively less documented occurrence, it seems natural that popular kids would also be bullied as they vie for a better standing in the school hierarchy. To borrow the words of the researchers, "targeting prominent rivals makes strategic sense".
The researchers gathered data from more than 8,000 students in 19 North Carolina schools. Their research focused on five closest friends and five students who had "picked on or were mean" to them, as well as five students that they had bullied. A web of connections was then outlined to draw the conclusions.