The way in which children respond to bullying and why has been detailed in a new study.
According to the researchers, the answer may lead to more effective interventions to reduce the negative consequences - and perhaps even the frequency - of bullying.
"The main question we were interested in is how do children go about selecting strategies for dealing with harassment from their peers?" said University of Illinois psychology professor Karen Rudolph, who led the study.
"And what we focused on was an understanding of the goals that kids develop in their social relationships," added Rudolph.
A series of questionnaires administered to 373 students found, as expected, that children who were most interested in developing relationships "had more positive perceptions of themselves and were more likely to say that they would cooperate and work to reduce conflict with other kids," Rudolph said.
When other kids harassed them, these children were "more likely to engage in proactive strategies to solve the problem," she said.
Children who wanted to be perceived as "cool" or competent "were less likely to use those kinds of thoughtful, careful strategies" when dealing with harassment, said Rudolph.
"And they were more likely to retaliate," added Rudolph.
These children also had more negative perceptions of their peers, Rudolph said.
Those who wanted to avoid negative judgments were less likely to retaliate against their peers.
"But they were also more passive. They just ignored what happened," she said.
The study is detailed in the journal Child Development.