The Uncomfortable Truth About Victims
- Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Editor's Note: Read Part I of this series on bullying here: Bullying Defined.
Like their tormentors, victims are misunderstood. Many think they get picked on because they wear glasses, are fat, have above-average grades, and so on. Thought some children with these characteristics are bullied, many are not. The frustrating and painful truth goes deeper than spectacles, obesity, or ingenuity.
Here are characteristics that bind victims to isolation, humiliation, and despair:
~They acquiesce too quickly to demands.
~They cry and cower, sometimes making elaborate displays of pain and suffering, fueling further attacks.
~They offer too few healthy boundaries. They refuse to defend themselves, leaving their attackers undeterred to future attacks.
~Their lack of self-defense is noticed and disliked by both aggressive and non-aggressive peers.
~They don’t take good-natured teasing well, mistaking it for outright criticism. They bristle easily and are short on humor.
~They often radiate low self-confidence with words, actions, and body language.
~They don’t know how to join in and participate with their peers.
~They wear distress on their sleeves—they’re socially not shrewd. They don’t know how to conceal their feelings when doing so is wise and prudent.
~They often do not engage in sports and don’t compete well when they do.
~They are more likely to have stomach pain, bed-wetting lapses, and fatigue. (The pain they feel is not just “in their head.”)
~They are submissive before they’re picked on.
This list was hard for me to study, consider, and accept when one of my children fell into the hands of a bullying crowd. Yet I did my child no favor, my anxious gut no favor, by pretending things didn’t apply to my kid when they did. Those days are behind us now, but they wouldn’t have been if we’d held on to our wounded pride and kept our heads in the sand instead of embracing a plan of action.
Parents of victims, there's a study where children who didn’t know each other were put into groups in which bullies quickly found their victims. The victims refused to take a leadership role even when opportunities presented themselves. They spent their time in passive play, parallel to and apart from their peers rather than with them.
They are not embraced by their non-bullying peers because they are picked on. Kids, like adults, prefer smooth and worry-free relationships. The friction victims bring to school life is not wanted by other kids, even though the victim status is completely unfair. Most teachers are loath to admit that either bullying or victimization goes on, considering them an open indictment of their adequacy and supervision.
Isolation from their peers sets victims up for depression and anxiety during the pivotal adolescent years and beyond. This social marginalization is probably more damaging to them in the long run than the bullying itself. Worse, the maltreatment by both bullies and peers compels them not to trust others. They perceive themselves as incompetent in social situations and have a low view of their abilities. They underperform both professionally and personally.
The list of victim characteristics reeks with the results of parental overprotection. Bully victims often come from overprotective homes where they get little, if any, practice handling conflict; as a result, they have little, if any, confidence in their ability to negotiate the world on their own. Overprotection prevents them from learning the skills necessary to avoid exploitation.
Taking matters into one’s own hands can bring unforeseen consequences, like when Tianna Onyebuagum of Goodletsville, Tennessee, told her son, Kenneth London, to strike back against his oppressor. He hit fifteen-year-old D’Angelo Karr with a rock and killed him. Onyebuagum received one year of probation; her son will live the rest of his life with the memory of unjustifiable homicide.
Recently on Parenting
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content