What makes certain children targets for bullies?
There are certain characteristics of kids who are targets for bullies but we have to be really careful about this because if a kid wants to bully a certain child they can bully anybody it doesn’t matter what the kid has but there are certain things that make other kids vulnerable and here are things that may happen.
A kid may be skinny, a kid may be big, they may have red hair, they may have different clothes, they may have something in their voice to make them feel different. Some vulnerability may make a kid susceptible to bullying. However, here’s the reality, even though kids may be tested out because of some difference the kids who continue to get bullied are not bullied because of those characteristics.
They’re bullied because of something else. So children who get targeted generally do something different. What they do is, they give off a big emotional reaction. They get really dramatic, they get really angry, they get excitable and then the child who did the bullying looks to his friends to show them that that kid has the problem not them.
So what’s important there is to see that if you can work with your child to show them that that reaction may not be the best way to react and give them a skill to learn something different we can actually help kids who are targets reduce their likelihood of being targeted. Again that doesn’t mean that a targeted kid is going to learn those skills and that they’re responsible for that, we’re just talking about helping them build some skills.
Dr. Haber is available for speaking engagements and consultations to help your combat your school or workplace bullying issues.
Dr. Joel Haber