Bullying (6): Victims

Victim markingsLast week, I talked about the character traits of Bullies. Today, I will cover the personality of the Bullied or Victims. It is obvious that for someone to be a bully, they need a victim. You probably wonder why some kids are bullied and others are not? Well, it is because there is some dynamic between the bully and the bullied and some behaviors are easy targets for the bully.

The most obvious reason kids become a target for bullying is being different in some way. It is not easy to avoid being different somehow, because something as small as your type of hair or the size of your body can be easily used by the bully as a weakness.

During the school years, fitting in is very important for kids and by trying so hard to fit in and hide the differences, they attract bullies to their weakness. In his 2007 research, Field found that children who are bullied have 2 main problems:

  1. They stand out as being different
  2. They have challenges with their social skills

Easy targets

If you understand that bullies need to overcome a real or perceived threat, you will understand why they need to pick easy targets. The main idea is to regain their missing power and for them, winning over the weak is good enough.

TargetIf we want to eliminate bullying, we need to understand what bullied victims do or do not do that marks them as targets. Lots of research regarding behavior of victims of bullying has found that:

  • Victims of bullying show the bullies that they are sensitive and have weaknesses. Kids all have weaknesses, but victims of bullying openly express their weaknesses or at least do not try to hide them.
  • Victims of bullying react easily to a bully’s behavior. They are upset and frightened easily, so even if the bullies are not convinced at the beginning of their bullying attempt they have found an easy target, they know they have picked the right target immediately after.
  • Victims of bullying have body language that appears weak. As most of the communication between kids is done non-verbally, the bully can pick from the posture, tone of voice and general body language that a certain target lacks confidence. Research done on psychopathic criminals discovered they pick their targets in the same way, targeting easy prey by reading their body language.
  • Victims of bullying are passive, quiet and shy. They do not stand up for themselves and lack assertiveness skills. Because they are quiet, shy, and do not stand up for themselves, a bully knows that there will be no resistance.
  • Victims of bullying may be socially withdrawn and do not have a supportive group of friends. Again, research on bullying discovered that the support group can change the whole dynamic of a bullying act by defending the weak, but when there is no support group, it will make it easy to find the victims alone and bully them.
  • Victims of bullying may put up with negative attention instead of being ignored. Some victims do not like being alone and miss the attention, so they will sometimes survive the abuse just to get some form of attention. A bully can easily pick up that need for attention as a weakness and use it.
  • Bullying posterVictims of bullying often come from overprotective homes or receive the protection of school personnel, which immediately makes them easy targets, because they appear unable to defend themselves.
  • Victims of bullying tend to blame themselves for any problems they have with others. The bully picks this up very quickly and knows that they have the self blame mentality and that after a bullying act, they will blame themselves for it and that will keep the bully out of trouble.

Understanding why some children are bullied is important, because this can help parents and educators focus on developing strategies to prevent the bullying or help when it already happens.

In the next chapter of the bullying series, I will cover the “other players in the bullying game”. Until next time, find out if your child fits into the victim profile and look for ways to give them the confidence to change it. I will be offering ideas about what parents can do in future posts.

Happy parenting,

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  • Gustav

    Bullies are sometimes encouraged by parents. They also tend to pick on “weaker and smaller” kids. Standing up to one often takes the wind out of his sails.

  • Stella

    I was a bystander to bullying, and although the person i saw didn’t take their life, i regret not doing anything.

    Im too scared to actually stand up to people because ive never been able to stand up for myself, but i want people to understand that bullying can lead to taking ACTUAL lives, that causing someone to take their own life, that person’s life is on their hand.

    Being a bully, to me, is like watching someone murdering another person. the affect that it has on the ictim is irreversible, and i want everyone to know that.

    If you know someone who is or has been bullied please email me. Even better, if you know someone who has taken their life due to bullying, also email me. ( bullyprofiles@hotmail.com )

    I’ll be started a various pages on various sites to try and get info out there.


  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/ ronitbaras

    Hi Stella,

    I am sure we were all bystanders at one stage of our life. Bullying became part of our reality and it made us scared and not take a stand.
    You are right. Bullying can take lives! I do not envy those who bullied and made someone else take his/her life as they must live with this for the rest of their life.
    I knew someone who had an affair and his wife and kids discovered that. His daughter who was about 12 years old when she discovered it was so angry that for 2 years she abused her dad. She was aggressive, she did not cooperate, she failed in school, She was drinking. when I talked to his daugther and asked her “why are you doing it and what do you want?, she said, ” He ruined my life, I will ruin his”. One day, she had a fight with her dad, a usual fight, he was angry and left the house in his car. couple of hours later his son found him in the garage, he hung himself with his belt. I don’t feel sorry for him, he is dead, I feel sorry for her. She is just 15 years old now, having to carry the burden of killing her dad.

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/ ronitbaras


    I didn’t think about that but you are right.
    Parents are many times bystanders and encourage their kids by doing nothing or praising acts of power.
    We can see it with siblings.