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Why the bully/victim relationship is so pernicious: A gendered perspective on power and animosity among bullies and their victims

  • Philip C. Rodkin (a1), Laura D. Hanish (a2), Shuai Wang (a1) and Handrea A. Logis (a1)


The bully/victim relationship was studied in a sample of elementary school children (N = 1,289 in first, third, and fifth grades). Three questions were tested. Does bullying involve a power differential between bully and victim? Are bully/victim dyads participants in a relationship, whether mutual liking or disliking? Does the gender composition of the bully/victim dyad moderate power differential and relational context patterns? Hierarchical linear modeling was used to analyze predictors of the reputational strength of bully/victim ties. The findings revealed that the bully/victim dyads most frequently nominated by peers were characterized by asymmetries in social status, where bullies were increasingly more popular than their victims, and by asymmetries in aggression, where bullies were increasingly less aggressive than their victims. Bullies and victims were likely to select one another as among the children that they least like. Most effects with respect to aggression, popularity, and relationships were moderated by the gender composition of the bully/victim dyad. Implications for a developmental psychopathology perspective on peer bullying and victimization are highlighted.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Philip C. Rodkin, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign, 403 East Healey Street, Champaign, IL 61820; E-mail:


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Why the bully/victim relationship is so pernicious: A gendered perspective on power and animosity among bullies and their victims

  • Philip C. Rodkin (a1), Laura D. Hanish (a2), Shuai Wang (a1) and Handrea A. Logis (a1)


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