Who bullies whom? Social status asymmetries by victim gender

  • Rodkin P
  • Berger C
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This study asks whether bullies have higher social status than their victims. Social status was measured by social preference, popularity, and physical competence as perceived by children and teachers. A survey instrument was introduced to enable identification of specific victims associated with specific bullies. The sample was 508 fourth and fifth grade children from midwest U.S. elementary schools. Results indicated that peer- and teacher-perceived popularity were the optimal status measures for capturing heterogeneity in bully–victim status imbalances. In addition, the gender of victims of male bullying was critical. Powerful, popular–aggressive bullies and unpopular victims were found in same- sex dyads, but unpopular–aggressive boys were also identified as bullying popular girls. All bullies were disliked. Implications are drawn for peer sexual harassment and for innovations in sociometric technology

Author-supplied keywords

  • Bullying
  • Gender
  • Social status

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  • Philip C. Rodkin

  • Christian Berger

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