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How popular are victims and bullies?

According to Scandinavian studies, typical bullies are likely to be as popular, or almost as popular, as their peers. It was also found that they were often surrounded by two or three friends who would support them and who liked them. However, their popularity decreases with age and by about 16 years it is much lower than the average. Even so the popularity of the bully does not fall to the low level of the victim.
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Article details

D Olweus (1993) 'Bullying at School: what we know and what we can do', Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Limited. Click the book image to buy it online and read some excerpts.
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Author details

Professor Dan Olweus was the first person to carry out a thorough research project on Professor Dan Olweusbullying. This large, long term study which began in Sweden in 1970, was to provide the inspiration for many who felt that bullying in schools should be challenged rather than accepted. Since the 1970s, his work in this area had continued with force. Indeed, in 1997-99, he led a group in a large project which introduced the widely respected Olweus (anti-bullying) programme to schools in Norway. Professor Olweus is based at the Research Centre for Health Promotion, University of Bergen in Norway and can be contacted by email.

Over 150 children were asked to describe their peers in certain ways. One of the things covered was how popular they felt their peers to be. It was found that those pupils described by their peers as bullies and victims were more likely than other children to be described as rejected. It was also found that the children described as bullies or victims were less likely than other children to be described as popular.
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Article details

M J Boulton and P K Smith (1994) 'Bully/Victim Problems in Middle-school Children: stability, self-perceived competence, peer perceptions and peer acceptance' in 'British Journal of Developmental Psychology', Volume 12, pages 315 - 329.
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Author details

Professor Peter K Smith is Head of the Unit for School and Family Studies, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, London. He has been involved in bullying research for a number of years and has published widely on this topic.

Peter Smith may be contacted by email, and the website of the Unit for School and Family Studies at Goldsmiths College may be found here.

Dr Michael Boulton is a lecturer in Social and Developmental Psychology at Keele University, England. He has published many papers on children's social relationships, particularly on friendship and bullying/aggression.

Dr Boulton may be contacted by email.

Information gathered from primary and secondary schoolchildren in The Netherlands revealed a strong link between being a bully or a victim and being disliked. In contrast, peers who fell into the group of children described as being 'sympathetic', were often very popular.
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Article details

T Mooij (1993) 'Working Towards Understanding and Prevention in The Netherlands', edited by D Tattum in 'Understanding and Managing Bullying', Oxford: Heinemann Educational.
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