Children bullying a student in school

Popularity can put children at risk for bullying

A paper published in the American Sociological Review this week states that as students become more popular, their risk of being bullied increases.

The study surveyed 4,200 students in eight, ninth and tenth grade in 19 public schools in North Carolina. The results shows that the climb up the social ladder can be a time of intense bullying for children as it's often disguised as gossip or drama. Students can also be threatened and pressured by their peers.

But this does not mean that stereotypical victims — children who struggle with body image or academics, or those without any friends — are not targets for bullying.

Our experts agree that this study goes to show that the scope of bullying is wide, and extends far beyond stigmatized individuals.

"Any child can be a potential target for bullying," said Kimble Richardson, licensed mental health counselor with Community Health Network. "It's a great idea to talk to your child about bullying. It can be a family discussion at the dinner table, or a one-on-one conversation between parent and child."

He also recommends that parents be aware of the signs of bullying:

  • Drop in grades
  • Reluctance to be involved in extracurricular activities
  • Fear of school
  • Unusual shifts in mood or behavior
  • Increased agitation
  • Suspected drug or alcohol use
  • Talk of, or attempts at suicide

If you suspect your child is being bullied and you would like more information on how to help them, contact Community Health Network Behavioral Health Services at 317-621-5700.

Sources: American Sociological Review and Time