We hear a lot about teen bullying, but this research from the University of California, Davis, is new: It says most such bullying occurs among peers climbing the social ladder, and the “highest rates of bullying occur between friends, and between friends of friends.” As if junior high weren’t difficult enough.
Today I talk with sociology Professor Robert Faris about why this happens—it’s “driven by this pursuit of something that is so ephemeral: popularity in high school,” he says—and what to do about it. Many conventional anti-bullying efforts, Faris continues, aren’t working. Churning, low-quality friendships contribute to the abuse, but solid and stable friendships can be part of the cure.
The report's co-authors are sociologists Diane Felmlee at Pennsylvania State University and Cassie McMillan at Northeastern University.