Friday, February 18, 2011

web of popularity achieved by bullying


Video - Wonder Woman the intentional antithesis of Superman.

NYTimes | new research suggests that the road to high school popularity can be treacherous, and that students near the top of the social hierarchy are often both perpetrators and victims of aggressive behavior involving their peers.

The latest findings, being published this month in The American Sociological Review, offer a fascinating glimpse into the social stratification of teenagers. The new study, along with related research from the University of California, Davis, also challenges the stereotypes of both high school bully and victim.

Highly publicized cases of bullying typically involve chronic harassment of socially isolated students, but the latest studies suggest that various forms of teenage aggression and victimization occur throughout the social ranks as students jockey to improve their status.

The findings contradict the notion of the school bully as maladjusted or aggressive by nature. Instead, the authors argue that when it comes to mean behavior, the role of individual traits is “overstated,” and much of it comes down to concern about status.

“Most victimization is occurring in the middle to upper ranges of status,” said the study’s author, Robert Faris, an assistant professor of sociology at U.C. Davis. “What we think often is going on is that this is part of the way kids strive for status. Rather than going after the kids on the margins, they might be targeting kids who are rivals.”

Educators and parents are often unaware of the daily stress and aggression with which even socially well-adjusted students must cope.

“It may be somewhat invisible,” Dr. Faris said. “The literature on bullying has so focused on this one dynamic of repeated chronic antagonism of socially isolated kids that it ignores these other forms of aggression.