Due to the frequency of bullying incidents, a number of risk factors have been identified among those who fall prey to this type of aggression. While the presence of these characteristics does not automatically predict who will be bullied, they are factors to be mindful of and should be addressed when observed.
Those who are at risk:
- Are perceived as different from their peers, such as being overweight or underweight, wearing glasses or different clothing, being new to a school, or being unable to afford what is considered “cool”
- Are cautious, sensitive, insecure personality, low self-esteem
- Are perceived as weak or unable to defend themselves
- Are depressed or anxious
- Are less popular than others and have few friends/lack close friends
- Do not get along well with others, seen as annoying or provoking, or antagonize others for attention
- Have overprotective or restrictive parents (possibly)
- Have difficulty asserting themselves
In addition to risk factors for victims there are also identifiable risk factors for the aggressor.
Those who are more likely to bully others:
- Are aggressive or easily frustrated
- impulsive, hot headed, dominant personality lacking empathy
- Have less parental involvement
- Think badly of others
- Have difficulty following/conforming to rules
- View violence in a positive way
- Have friends who bully others
- Have a gradual decrease in interest in school or achievement
Lastly, bullies often experience power and aggression from those close to them, and learn to use this type of maladaptive behavior to control others. They may have:
- Parents who show power and aggression by yelling, hitting or rejecting a member(s) of the family
- Parents who show power and aggression with each other
- Siblings who may bully the child at home
- Teachers or coaches who show power and aggression by yelling, excluding, etc.
If you or someone you know has experienced bullying or if you are currently being bullied, talk with someone you trust and ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help, and you should continue to ask until you get the help you need. By opening up to someone you trust, you avoid the isolation that comes with being unsure, and you create the opportunity to receive guidance from those who can ultimately help.
Risk factors: http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/factors/index.html
What are the risk factors? http://www.erasebullying.ca/bullying/bullying-risks.php
Safe community, safe schools fact sheet: An overview of bullying: http://www.colorado.edu/cspv/publications/factsheets/safeschools/FS-SC07.pdf
Stay tuned for… Vital Statistics about Bullying