Study: Popularity is the primary cause of bullying among kids

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With the incredible pace of social networking these days, it's easy to get swept up or left behind in the cyber-dust. But one group of people, perhaps surprisingly, has successfully managed the digital leap: that familiar playground menace, bullies. The rise of "cyberbullying" — harassing kids on their Facebook pages, as opposed to stealing their lunch money — has led researchers back to the age-old question of what makes people mean.

And the answer seems to be that kids aren't mean because they're badly adjusted misfits. They're mean because they're popular enough to get away with it. 

According to a new study at UC-Davis, bullying behavior becomes more likely the more popular a student becomes. Kids at the top of the social hierarchy ended up the most aggressive, and the least aggressive students could be found in the bottom two percent. The authors also suggest that race and family background have surprisingly little to do with bullying behavior; for the most part, normal well-adjusted kids become worse and worse the more friends they have. 

On the one hand, it seems like a pretty cynical view into human nature. But on the other, it seems to confirm what we already knew. Popular kids making fun of not-popular kids? Even in 2011, high school is still high school.