There are no exact criteria that make bullies single out specific children. Sometimes the same qualities that make your child a great friend and classmate in one environment can make him a victim of bullying in another. Victims of bullying run the gamut of personalities, from outgoing, talkative children to introverts who require a little coaxing at recess.
Bullies generally pick on:
- Anyone who’s different from them in terms of their appearance, weight, accent, clothing or interests. Because of this, disabilities make some children an easy target.
- Children who are smaller or younger — and not so able to defend themselves
- Those who will easily react — children who can get upset or cry without much provocation
- Kids who are not athletic or academically successful
- Classmates who are socially anxious or struggle with shyness
How do I know if my child is being bullied?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Don’t expect your child to tell you outright about a bullying incident. It’s likely that he’s feeling scared, lonely and helpless. He may feel ashamed and think the incident is his fault, or the bully may have intimidated him into keeping quiet. If your child is a victim of bullying, his stressful school environment may affect his behavior at home.
Here are some changes to look for in your child:
- Feeling left out of peer groups or social activities
- Lack of desire to go to school by faking illness or running away from the building
- Expressing a wish to change his route, or asking you to take him to school
- Anxiety at the thought of going to school
- Lower academic performance
- Lack of interest in discussing his day at school
- Negative reaction when you try to discuss what’s going on in his life
- Unexplained injuries
- Decreased appetite
- Loss of self-confidence
- Frequent nightmares