In her New York Times article, “Web of Popularity Achieved by Bullying,” Tara Parker-Pope describes increased bullying used by social climbers trying to become popular.  As they near the top, these climbers increase harassment, bullying and abuse, especially cyber bullying, in order to increase their popularity by crushing those slightly above and below them.  The studies claim that at the uppermost levels of the “in crowd,” bullying between peers decreases.  Of course, everyone feeds on the little fishes when they want.

According to the study, it’s all about increasing social networks and status.

Bullies always have many reasons, excuses and justifications for their actions.  The important thing is to look past all the reasons and not focus on one type of bullying.  Instead, the important thing is to stop every type of bullying.

If left unchecked people will repeat a pattern of successful bullying all of their lives.  Bullies who succeeded because they weren’t stopped when they’re young, simply keep bullying their way up the adult ladder of popularity, power and success in the workplace and in personal life.  Why would a bully or predator tinker with a strategy that’s been successful?

Similarly, kids who have been victimized will often feel helpless, unprotected, unskilled and inept all their lives.  The self-bullying negativity, perfectionism, shame, blame and guilt lasts forever.  The loss of confidence and self-esteem remain.  They’ll have increased depression and suicides.  They’ll tend to be victimized at work and at home.

Of course, we need laws to set good standards; we need strong programs that involve all students in being witnesses who speak up for high standards; we need teachers, principals, counselors and district administrators who will act courageously.

It isn’t easy but it is clear.

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Resources Cited: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/web-of-popularity-weaved-by-bullying/

Ben Leichtling, Ph.D. is author of the books and CDs “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks,” “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and “Eliminate the High cost of Low Attitudes.” He is available for coaching, consulting and speaking.  To find practical, real-world tactics to stop bullies and bullying at home, school, work and in relationships, see his web site (http://www.BulliesBeGone.com) and blog (http://www.BulliesBeGoneBlog.com).

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