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Why Do People Get Bullied in School?

why do people get bullied

The answer to the question “why do people get bullied?” stems from a variety of reasons ranging from physical appearance, to social standing, to academic performance. The vast majority of bullying happens to schoolchildren within the school setting; however, it can also occur outside school. Adults have also been victims of bullying within the workplace. Parents and teachers should recognize the reasons for which children become targets for bullies.

|SEE ALSO: Why Do People Bully|


Bullies search for any reason to taunt and ridicule their peers, where bullying puts the aggressor in a position of power and dominance while relegating the bullied person to a position of submission.When people get bullied, it is possible to turn the tables on bullies but this often requires adult intervention.

Physical Appearance

The Annual Bullying Survey for 2015 found that physical appearance is the number 1 cause of bullying in UK. People get bullied for having freckles, acne, moles other uncommon or undesirable physical features, as young people tend to be quite superficial and make snap judgments based on aesthetics.

Because young people are very focused on visuals and tend to be superficial, students are usually judged based on the way they dress. Students from families that cannot afford to buy the latest fashion trends or clothes of a certain quality may endure bullying. Consequently, many parents choose to enroll their kids in private schools that have a strictly enforced dress code, which requires all students to don the exact same ensemble, thus reducing the risk at which people get bullied due to being from families without the economic means to purchase the latest fashion trends.

It is also common for young people and children to be bullied for wearing glasses. Studies have shown that there is a negative stigma associated with glasses, which causes children who wear glasses to be viewed as outcasts and taunted for their appearance.

Race and Ethnicity

Bullies can also target students of different races or ethnicities, such as those of Asian, Hispanic or African-American descent. The highest rate of bullying have been reported by those whose parents were born outside the US, such as the case of Sladjana Vidovic, who was bullied for her thick accent and Bosnian roots and eventually took her own life at the young age of 16.

Sexual Orientation

According to, sexual orientation is the second most common reason people get bullied for. Students in middle school and high school report getting bullied and taunted for having homosexual, or bisexual tendencies or desires or even for simply appearing to have these tendencies. Others also get bullied for their gender identity, where being transgendered or transexual is not conforming to the “norm”. Consequently, a study in 2007 showed that 44% of LGBT youth were physically harassed and 42% experienced cyber bullying at one point or another.

Religious Backgrounds

People of religious beliefs different from those of the majority may be targets of berating and bullying. Students with visible religious symbols such as the hijab worn by Muslim girls, yarmulkes worn by Jewish boys and turbans (dastars) worn by sikh boys are usually bullied by others for being visibly different. However, religious intolerance towards Muslim and Sikh students in particular have increased over the past decade due to the misconception behind the association between their religions and terrorism.

Disabilities and Speech Impediments

Handicapable children and students with learning disabilities are at an increased risk of being tormented where they are 2 to 3 times more likely to be bullied than non-disabled students. Children with disabilities often attend classes with students without disabilities, leaving them exposed to bullying. People get bullied for their disabilities because they are considered to be weak, inferior and non conforming to the norm. This is one of the more brutal forms of bullying because children with disabilities are often completely defenseless against aggressors. If their fellow students witness the differential treatment given by teachers, children with physical, mental or learning disabilities will be targeted by bullies for being different.

Professor Gordon W. Blood of Pennsylvania State University conducted a recent study, which showed that children that stutter are 61% more likely to be bullied. This shows that young people get bullied for having speech impediments; therefore, parents should send their children to speech therapy, which can help them overcome their speech impediments. Sadly, individuals with speech impediments face discrimination and teasing even beyond the school years, as employers and adult co-workers can be equally as insensitive and juvenile when it comes to belittling an individual who suffers from a speech impediment.

Behavior and Mannerisms

People get bullied for lacking self-awareness and having idiosyncrasies that set them apart from the crowd, making them easy targets. Some children take every opportunity to chastise others for being different; as a result, bullies often target those that are shy because they do not overtly attempt to fit in with the larger group. Consequently, introverted children who tend to avoid crowds and groups can be ostracized for their solitary nature.

Unfortunately, when people get bullied for being introverts, they have the potential to be involved in fatal incidents in retaliation against their bullies and the school system, as 86% of bullied students stated that they would resort to violence to retaliate against their bullies.

 Socioeconomic Standing

The Annual Bullying Survey 2015 stated that one of the groups with the highest risk for bullying is low-income backgrounds. Thus, social standing plays a part in bullying, where children from wealthier families and neighborhoods look down upon those with lesser means for not conforming to their “cool” standards and as a result bully them. The media encourages young people to act this way, leading them to believe wealth and materialism are desirable traits. Oftentimes, cliques develop in accordance with social standing and once these cliques are formed, they are difficult to transcend and so children and young people get bullied for being different.

Independent Thinkers

School environments are bastions for groupthink and those who do not conform to the norm become a convenient target for bullying and are socially ostracized. As a result, people get bullied for not succumbing to peer pressure for being too individualistic. Nevertheless, despite the bullying, parents should encourage their children to think on their own and develop unique opinions as it will help the child develop critical thinking skills that will prove to be quite valuable in their adult lives. Independent thinkers are highly cherished in plenty of professional spheres and adults who are capable of thinking outside the box and deviating from the mainstream often end up as CEOs, inventors and elite academics.

Academic Performance

Children who are held back due to poor academic performance are bullied at a high frequency. Viewed as “dumb” and “slow” by their peers, these children have been removed from the comfort zone of their normal grade level peers. Subsequently, feeling out of place, these people get bullied for being the new faces in an unfamiliar environment, making them convenient targets for bullies. Thankfully, kids who are held back are oftentimes physically larger than those in their classes, so they will be able to physically intimidate bullies who taunt them.

Just as poor academic performance can be seen as a reason for bullying, people also get bullied for high academic performance or intelligence. Children who go out of their way to prove their intelligence or display their academic achievements will face the scrutiny of their peers. Consequently, gifted students may purposely fall behind so as to conform. Sadly, high academic performance is not rewarded nor appreciated by peers until much later in the professional workforce.


This analysis of the psychology of children and young adults  on what makes them targets for bullying. Parents must also be proactive and teach their children that bullying is wrong and that there is no good reason to bully others. Share this now to educate parents and teachers on why do people get bullied.


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