No One is Safe: Victimization Experiences of High-Status Youth

  • Molly DawesEmail author
  • Sarah Malamut
Narrative Review


Traditionally, victims were seen as weak, disempowered youth who typically had low-status in the peer hierarchy. However, accumulating evidence suggests that victimization experiences are not limited to those with low-status and that high-status adolescents may also be at risk. This review outlines a theoretical framework that explains high-status youth’s risk for victimization using evolutionary psychological, social dominance, and related perspectives which suggest that those with access to desirable resources may be targeted by peers who want those resources for themselves. Next, the review summarizes the empirical research demonstrating that high-status youth are targets of their peers’ aggressive behavior. Specific attention is given to the forms of aggression most often used to target high-status youth as well as the methods used to identify victims with high social status. Lastly, the review concludes with recommendations for future work on this burgeoning area of research.


High-status victims Popular victims Central victims Peer victimization Adolescence 



This review was inspired by a paper symposium presented at the 2018 biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA) organized by Dr. Hongling Xie (Temple University) with presentations by Marianne Hooijsma (University of Groningen), Michelle Rosie (Temple University), Sarah Malamut (University of Southern California), and Dr. Naomi Andrews (Mothercraft/ York University). We wish to express our gratitude to these colleagues for sparking this conversation, especially our mentor Dr. Hongling Xie.

Authors’ Contributions

MD conceived of the review, conceptualized the framework presented in the article, conducted the literature review, and drafted the manuscript. SA helped conceive the review, contributed to the development of the conceptual framework, participated in the literature review, and helped draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interests.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EducationUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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