Although bullying is often considered in the context of singular victims and primary perpetrators, examining the role of groups in school violence is important.
When students see their aggressors as "representative" of a group, they are more likely to generalize their animosity for the aggressor to all members of the group.
When students feel they are targeted because of group membership they might feel more obligated and justified to retaliate to protect, not only themselves, but their fellow group members.
We asked 447 high school students whether they had experienced any physical, verbal, relational, or cyber aggression in the past 6 months.
We also asked about the "perceived groupness" of the harassment. Including:
1) whether they were targeted by a member or members of a "social group" at school (e.g., a clique; "popular kids," "athletes").
2) whether they were targeted because of their membership in a social group.
We also asked follow-up questions to identify groups, whether certain groups were typically aggressors, and whether their group was typically targeted.
Across the different types of bullying, individuals were more likely to identify their aggressor as having been the member of a particular social group (e.g., clique) than not.
Likewise students felt targeted because of their group membership more so than not.
Students provided their own labels for the different social identities of groups in their high school & identified the groups their aggressors belonged to.
Students also identified the groups to which they belonged.
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Compared to those bullied by or as an individual, those who exhibited high scores on "perceived groupness" (e.g., feeling their group was targeted by another group) were more likely to: