When Popularity Backfires: Climbing the Social Ladder Can Lead to Bullying

TIME

There are certain truths that we have come to accept about the social hierarchy in middle and high schools – the popular kids rule the halls, while the less conventional ones, who dress, think or act differently, are marginalized at the bottom. And indeed, studies have documented how most of the victims of bullying are those who occupy the lower rungs of the social ladder — in 2011, nearly 30% of students aged 12 years to 18 years reported being bullied, either in school or via the internet, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

But a new study suggests that social outcasts aren’t the only targets of bullying and aggression, and that increasing one’s social status can lead to being ostracized, teased, and threatened. “This second pattern of aggression is among kids who are relatively popular targeting their rivals, and this tends to escalate until they climb…

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