Often times with kids, “what happens at school- stays at school.” With this type of mentality it can be difficult to determine if your child fits the profile of a bullying victim. Without your child communicating about their problems many parents find themselves asking if their child is a victim of bullying and if so how they can protect them. To help parents out we’ve put together a synopsis of who bullies prefer to pick on, what to look for to determine if your child is a victim, and a few tips on how to protect them. Explore what is the Profile of a Bullying Victim!
Profile of a Bullying Victim: From the Bullies Perspective
Often times the child who is being aggressive chooses their victim based on several factors. According to Europe’s Anti-Bullying Campaign the top things bullies tend to look for are actually quite simple. First they look for a child who is different than the rest of the group. This prevents the child from finding sympathy from observers of the bullying. If they can prevent sympathy in the observers than the aggressor will also achieve their next goal of finding someone who will not be easily helped. They look for children who do not make friends easily so they can isolate them. When a child is isolated they appear weaker to everyone else involved including the child who is being victimized making them less prepared to protect themselves.
When a bully has identified another child who fits into these categories they start seeking ways to show their dominance over them in a way that creates an audience and gives them a feeling of superiority. The child they prey on is one who can be easily teased with the least amount of negative consequences. It is common for a child to become the target of a bully when they have recently moved to the school, are a different race than the majority of children, when they have customs that greatly differ than other children, or if they are by nature shy and passive. Not all children will be bullied if they fit this generalization, but they are at a higher risk for being targeted.
Profile of a Bullying Victim: Signs and Symptoms
Once you have determined if your child is at risk for being bullied there are several types of victimization to look out for. Kansas Safe School Resource Center has found three different profiles of a bullying victim.
- Profile of a Bullying Victim: Passive Victim: This is the classic bully victim. A passive victim is one who did nothing to provoke the bully except for traits which bullies find easy to prey upon. When a passive victim is being oppressed they express feelings of anxiety, depression, and typically have a low self-esteem. They have very few friends and are often lonely and sad. The article goes on to describe how younger children will often show signs by crying, being angry, and withdrawing from previous activities they used to enjoy. The older child will usually find ways to passively avoid the bully by avoidance or escaping. This means they will skip the event a known aggressor will be at or quickly leaving a situation they feel unsafe at.
- Profile of a Bullying Victim: Provocative Victim: A child who provokes a bully to take notice of their differences. While there are slightly less children who fit this profile of a bullying victim chances are most people have encountered this type of victim before. They are typically characterized with having disruptive capabilities and often arouse negative feelings such as exasperation, irritability, and annoyance. Because of their inability to connect effectively with their peers they are easily singled out. Often times a bully will target this person because the child is ineffective at protecting them self yet will continue to try, making the bully appear stronger in front of observers. Some characteristics of a provocative victim are aggressiveness, low tolerance for others behaviors, or they may have a disability such as ADHD which hinders their ability to think a behavior through all the way.
- Profile of a Bullying Victim: Bully-Victim: A cycle can be started when a victim feels the need to spread the teasing to other children. Generally they are weaker than the initial bully yet stronger than their own targets. They are more likely to be anxious and depressed than the other types of victims due to the guilt they have for bullying others and the low self-esteem caused by being bullied.
Profile of a Bullying Victim: Steps to Take if Your Child is a Victim
Once you have determined your child is in need of help start by opening up communication. If your child does not want to bring it up, you can always take the lead by sharing what you see and offering your help. They will most likely be embarrassed and want to change the subject but always reaffirm your availability to help. Depending on the age you may want to offer your child outside assistance such as a counsellor they may be able to speak to. Giving your child a voice is often the first step to helping them know their feelings matter and what is happening to them is not appropriate.
You as the parent may need to find outside assistance to protect your child as well. Narrow down what situations your child is being bullied in and see if there is a way to minimize exposure to that situation. If you are able to determine who the instigator is it may be necessary to speak with the child’s parent and explain, without placing guilt, about the situation and see if there could be an action plan put into place. The parents of the bully may want to seek out how to help their child overcome the need to bully others.
If the bullying can not be solved it may be necessary to remove your child from the situation completely and let them get a fresh start elsewhere. Before uprooting them explain to them why and teach them how to avoid being bullied in the first place. Boost their self-esteem by letting them be involved in programs they excel in and help them in areas they fumble with. If the bullying included physical violence enrolling them in an age-appropriate self defense class can often increase their confidence in how to protect themselves. If it was more of a verbal abuse teach them how to walk away confidently and reinforce positive attributes in the area being attacked. You know your child the best and you may need to be creative in how you approach this touchy subject. The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem, while the best thing you might do is help your child through it.
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