Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Who bullies?

I am not a sociologist, but I have spent a lot of time in middle schools and have developed an archetype of the very most popular girl. Think back to seventh grade. Chances are that the Queen Bee rated her status through some form of actual merit, if you will. She was athletic, pretty, stylish and most of all kind. She was easygoing, at least on the outside, and because she had older brothers she was not awkward around boys. The girls in her circle all elbowed for her attention, and she didn’t quite understand what all the fuss was about.

All around her girls were acting nasty, because they thought that would cement their position in the group, but this particular girl neither participated in or condoned such behavior. (She didn’t stop it either, but that is a lot to ask of a 12-year-old.)

This was Mia, if you read Not Much Just Chillin’, or Julie, if you were in the class of ’84 at Maple Dale Middle School.

Nirvi Shah writes in Education Week about findings that mesh with my observations: The kids who bully sit in the middle of social hierarchies, not atop them. Talk radio notwithstanding, we do not admire the very meanest.

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