A study conducted on students in North Carolina and published in the American Sociological Review determined that when it comes to childhood bullying, students who were popular were the most likely to be behind the bullying behavior.
The study which did not interview the students to get further thoughts on the situations determined that only the top level of popularity was exempt from bullying fellow students. These people that were considered highest on the ladder tended to be nice to everyone in order to retain their status.
However, among the rest of the popular kids the bullying got worse the more popular the bully was. Between the levels of those being bullied and the top of popularity line the levels of bullying continued to increase as the level of popularity of the perpetrator increased.
So who was least likely to bully others? Those who were bullied the most showed very few instances of every bullying another person.
The study did not simply focus on physical violence and threats. It also looked at things like spreading rumors and making sure the victim was ostracized from their classmates.