Sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education
A project under the School of Social Welfare's Center for Children & Families

Youth at Risk for Bullying

As mentioned previously, children who bully tend to carefully select targets. They don’t tend to bully others who can effectively stand up for themselves, because that would put the bully and his/her assistants at risk for "losing face". But no single factor puts a kid at risk for being victimized. Research suggests that the following may be characteristics that heightens a child’s risk for being bullied:

  • Children with disabilities – Language impairments, cognitive or emotional disabilities, physical disabilities, hearing impaired, verbal or motoric tics, special health needs (e.g., diabetes, narcolepsy)
  • Children who are already socially isolated – anxious, worried, fearful, and depressed, low self-esteem, new at the school, cautious, sensitive, quiet
  • Ethnic minorities, English language learners – meaning, when one’s ethnicity is not represented at the school (can be a white child at a Hispanic school, or an African American child at a predominately white school, etc.)
  • Gender or sexual minority – transgendered youth (youth who appear to be one gender because of physical features, but hold the identity of the opposite gender), genderqueer (those who do not identify with either gender or identify with both genders), or bisexual, gay, lesbian
  • Children who are "different" from other children in their school – by their religious affiliation, the way they sound (e.g., accent, speech impediment), what they wear, high or low body weight, their use of prosthetic devices (dental or leg braces, glasses, etc.), degree of pubertal maturation, the color of their hair, physical weakness, social awkwardness.

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