In order to better understand the victims of bullying, it is perhaps useful to first get into the mindset of bullies to understand what motivates them to become monsters!
Well, bullies are who they are because of what they see in their victims. They pick victims that are easy targets and almost always children that are easy to frighten.
Since they dislike being outsmarted, bullies also take time off to read the body language of their would-be victims, before they pounce. They are always on the hunt for the week, sensitive, and children who have issues blending in with the others.
They do not want to deal with individuals that are likely to challenge them.
Exactly who is at risk of bullying?
Research shows that children or groups of children most at risk of bullying are those with the following traits:
1. Children lacking self esteem
Children with low self-esteem and therefore lacking in self-confidence and assertiveness, feel powerless and insecure in the presence of bullies.
Because they do not think highly of themselves, they are often shy, quiet, and less involved in school or other shared activities. They more than often become victims of bullying.
According to VeryWell
people who bully others are looking for someone who will react to their hurtful words or actions. As a result, bullies target teens who are not confident or assertive.
Sometimes, children with these character traits are submissive and insecure and will become prime targets of forceful peers.
2. Children that are physically different
Kids who are physically different in body structure and those that feel inadequate because of looks and related reasons are also easy targets.
The sense of ‘inability’ in children with small/obese body weight and height, leaves them quite fragile. Most bullies are of bigger body mass, and/or surround themselves with similarly bigger boys to wreak havoc on smaller children.
Such victims of abuse are often left thinking they are not attractive or charming and are less likely to engage in school or social interactions.
Studies also show the relationship between obesity and bullying.
Physical appearance, particularly overweight or obesity, has been reported to be a common reason for being bullied for both boys and girls.89–96 This weight-based teasing is a problem for all youth regardless of racial/ethnic origin.97 Bullies often target individuals who are overweight and unattractive.
3. Children with special health needs
Children with varying health conditions or disorders are more likely to be bullied than their peers.
These include children with physical and intellectual disabilities, those with speech disorders, anxiety, and of course, the sickly, etc.
These and similar conditions increase the risk of stigmatization and other consequences.
Studies have shown,
children with chronic illnesses and disabilities (ie, learning disorders, chronic diseases) are more likely to be bully victims.76–80 Children with cerebral palsy have been reported to be victims of social exclusion within the school context.81
4. Children from overprotective homes
Although protecting children is a good thing to do, going overboard, however, leaves them defenseless every time they are on their own.
Since they have been trained to rely on parents, big brothers, and teachers, in times of difficulty, encounters with bullies leave them very fragile.
Overprotection goes hand in hand with extremely strict parenting which all fail to prepare children for crude realities in life.
Rather than producing the ideal children that parents want, overprotection and strictness can increase vulnerability in children, which can lead to withdrawal, depression, and low self-esteem.
Active parenting should be considered instead, to prepare children for the real world out there.
5. Children that are socially secluded
Kids who lack protective frameworks of peers, and/or groups, are easy targets because they lack someone to defend them in the face of bullying.
These children are usually introverts and others who feel socially unattractive and may isolate themselves from an active environment.
Unfortunately, this will not scare away the bullies who will be seeking for them all the time.
A supportive network of social friends and groups is usually the first line of defense when children experience bullying. More often than not, these networks are more important than only the best friend.
The helping hand for victims of bullying
None of the above factors may point to victims of bullying, especially if schools and institutions pre-cultivated a bullying-free environment, but you may just want to check them out, just to be sure.
In any case, the listed traits should be minimized at all costs because they don’t actually bring out the very best in children. Children should be encouraged to assert themselves with or without bullying.
In addition, children need to be made aware of the loopholes that promote bullying, and their own role in ensuring that other children are not bullied. They should desist from secluding other children and instead stand up for each other.