A study from UC Davis found that middle and high school students higher up on the popularity "food chain" are at risk of being harassed and gossiped about just as much as their less connected classmates.
Researchers say as kids climb higher up in their social hierarchy, they face a greater risk of being bullied.
“Most of these adverse consequences were worse for high-status targets,” researcher Robert Faris with UC Davis said in a university article.
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“A single bullying event may be particularly psychologically and socially damaging for popular students who feel that they have farther to fall,” he continued.
Researchers warned that parents should not assume everything is fine at school if their kids seem to have a lot of friends.
The study suggests the only students who may be virtually safe from bullying are the top 5 percent of the school - those students who may be considered so popular that they are out of the reach of any potential rivals.
"The very top rung offers a safe perch above the fray," Faris is quoted in the study summary.
The study, titled “Casualties of Social Combat,” was published in the latest edition of the American Sociological Review.