10 Reasons Why Kids Are Bullied

Discover how bullies choose their targets

sad little boy
Kelly Knox/Stocksy United

Anyone can be a target of bullying, even strong, athletic, and popular kids. Too many times people assume that victims of bullying bring it on themselves. They wrongly believe if the targets were different in some way then they would not be bullied.

They also believe that if targets want to be accepted by society and free from bullying they should change. Other people wrongly assume that targets deserve to be bullied.

They feel they are too sensitive, unstable, or whiners, and that if they were stronger they wouldn’t be targeted.

But in reality the problem does not lie with the victims of bullying. Bullying is about a wrong choice the bully makes, not some defect in the target. And the responsibility for bullying always falls on the bully's shoulders. So, why are individuals bullied?

There are a variety of reasons why bullies target others, including everything from personality differences to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Here are some common characteristics that can lead to bullying:

Targets May Be Good at What They Do

A lot of times kids will be bullied because they get a lot of positive attention for something. This could be everything from excelling in sports, making the cheerleading squad, or getting the editor’s position on the school newspaper. Bullies target these students because they either feel inferior or they worry that their abilities are being overshadowed by the target’s abilities.

Targets May Be Intelligent, Determined and Creative

At school, these students go that extra mile on schoolwork. Or they learn very quickly and move through projects and assignments faster than other students. For instance, gifted students are often targeted for being smart.

Targets May Have Personal Vulnerabilities 

Children who are introverted, anxious, or submissive are more likely to be bullied than kids who are extroverted and assertive.

In fact, some researchers believe that kids who lack self-esteem may attract kids who are prone to bully. Finally, research shows that kids suffering from depression or stress-related conditions also may be more likely to be bullied.

Targets May Have Few or No Friends 

Many victims of bullying tend to have fewer friends than children who do not experience bullying. What’s more, they may be rejected by their peers and usually spend lunch and recess alone. Parents and teachers can prevent bullying of socially-isolated students by helping them develop friendships.

Targets May Be Popular or Well-Liked 

Sometimes bullies target popular or well-liked children because of the threat they pose to the bully. Mean girls are especially likely to target a girl who threatens her status at school or her social standing.

Targets Have Physical Features That Attract Attention

Whether a target is short or tall, fat or thin bullies may target them. Almost any type of physical characteristic that is different or unique can attract the attention of bullies including wearing glasses, having acne, having a large nose, or having ears that stick out.

Targets Have an Illness or Disability

Oftentimes, bullies target special needs children. This can include children who have Asperger’s, autism, ADHD, dyslexia, or any condition that sets them apart. What’s more, kids with conditions like food allergies, asthma, Down syndrome, and other conditions also can be targeted by bullies.

Targets Have a Different Sexual Orientation

More often than not, kids are bullied for being gay. In fact, some of the most brutal bullying incidents have involved children who are bullied for their sexual orientation.

Targets Have Different Religious or Cultural Beliefs

One example of bullying because of religious or cultural beliefs includes the treatment Muslim students received after the 9/11 tragedy. But any student can be bullied for their religious beliefs. Both Christian students and Jewish students are often ridiculed for their beliefs and practices as well.

Targets Belong to a Different Racial Group

Sometimes kids will bully others because they are of a different race. For instance, Caucasian students may single out African-American students and bully them. Or African-American students may single out Caucasian students and bully them. It happens with all races and in all directions. No race is exempt from being bullied, and no race is exempt from having bullies.

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