While a mental image of the “classic” school victim is quite easily conjured up, the truth is that any single child, through no fault of his/her own, may be bullied. They seem different to their peers in some way and don’t quite “fit in” – even the smallest thing that sets them apart can be sufficient “justification” for aggression by the bully. Children may unwittingly invite attacks by behaving in ways that provoke tension and irritation, possibly due to inadequate social skills or learning difficulties, or they might simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Some of the reasons a child may be bullied include differences due to:
- Physical appearance (size, weight, hair colour, clothing type) or personality trait (shy, quiet and unlikely to stand up to others or loud and overbearing);
- A physical disability;
- Culture, creed or race;
- Excellent or poor academic performance;
- A one-off incident or embarrassing moment;
- A troubled home life (e.g. alcoholic parent or mental health issues);
- An over-protective or passive parent;
- Hobbies or interests;
- Sexual orientation;
- Easy provocation into angry or tearful reactions.
The seriousness and duration of the bullying behaviour is directly related to the child’s continuing response to the aggression. Once someone is singled out by a bully, other people will see that person as a target and may begin bullying him or her too. Research shows that no matter the true origin of the bullying, victims tend to believe that they themselves are the cause and imagine that there must be something wrong with them.
Read about Who does the Bullying.