In order to sharpen their bullying “skills”, children need to seek out and find other kids who are easy targets for bullying. This week, we’ll be talking about the child who gets bullied…who they are, how they respond and the impact of bullying on their lives.
Like bullies, children who are bullied come in all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, etc. The one thing that all targeted kids have in common is that they have been singled out to be the object of someone else’s contempt.
They become the recipient of verbal, physical or relational bullying based solely on the fact that they are in some way different from the child who has targeted them. The differences become the justification for acting out.
There is a common myth that the target of bullying are weak, pathetic, insecure kids that had it coming, deserved what they got or asked to be bullied. All of there excuses put the responsibility for bullying behavior on the target, rather than the bully.
The truth is, many children who are bullied are kind, caring and respectful kids. Kids who bully often see these qualities as vulnerabilities to be exploited. BUT…no one deserves to be bullied for any reason!
Anyone can be a target of bullying. I created a list of potential reasons why a child might be targeted. Check out our “Is My Child a Potential Target?” page to read more on that.
When a child who is prone to bullying behavior, it doesn’t take much to find an excuse to target someone. Bullies learn to their bullying behavior largely in part by the way they were treated by the bigger and more powerful people in their lives. Children who are given the freedom to feel strong and independent do not have a need to humiliate others.
When the target of bullying moves from target to victim, and succumbs to the bullying, giving the bully what they want by showing fear, distress or apathy or fails to respond assertively against the attack, they become a different person. They are different physically, emotionally and mentally.
The guilt, the shame and the sense of failure that a target feels when they are unable to cope with the bullying contribute to the erosion of self-esteem and confidence. The targeted child starts to become isolated from friends, has trouble focusing on school work and develops survival skills instead of social skills.
If you suspect that your child may be a target of bullying, don’t expect them to come and tell you about it outright. There are multiple reasons why a child doesn’t tell an adult about being bullied. Check out our “Why Won’t My Child Talk to Me?” page to read more on that. Often, children who are targeted by bullying give clues that something is not quite right.
There are definite warning signs that your child may be a target of bullying. Check out our “Ten Signs Your Child May be a Target” page to read more on that. Children speak to us in several ways-with their body, their face, their eyes, their tone of voice and their words. Words can be a cover or excuse for what they are really trying to say. Don’t dismiss changes in their behavior as a phase or something that will pass.
Be alert to the frequency, duration and intensity of any changes that you do notice. Listen beyond the words and look beyond the actions. As parents, we must take the blinders off and think the unthinkable. We need to go beyond the indicators and see what is happening “behind the scenes”.
If you are ready to learn more about what you can do to create a more positive, balanced home for your family, check out our latest e-book called “Bullyproof”. It’s full of ideas on how you can take small steps to empower your child to stand up to bullies, to keep the lines of communication open and help your child to become more empathetic and compassionate.
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