There are no definitive ways of predicting which children will be bullied and which will not though there do appear to be some personality traits and behaviors that bullied children share. This doesn’t mean that a child who has a similar “profile” will be bullied or is at risk of being bullied as it may simply be that they share characteristics of bullied children.
Below are some of the conclusions that were drawn from our 2007 Survey into bullying.
Children who were constantly or sometimes bullied tended to have either no close friends or a very small close circle of friends. In contrast non-bullied children belonged to large social groups, in which they enjoyed close relationships with a small circle of members. However it is worth noting that we were unable to ascertain how to what degree these social groups formed as a result of being bullied rather than as a preferred social behavior.
Girls were more likely (by a significant degree) to experience bullying than boys.
In our survey we attempted to measure 5 main character traits that an individual possesses, these are:
Bullied children are almost half as less likely to engage in spontaneous acts or engage/seek out “New Experiences” i.e. they are generally conservative in nature. They are far less willing to compromise with others, whilst at the same time being significantly more introverted. It may well be that it is this unwillingness to accept compromise coupled with the way they act socially i.e. in small close groups, is one of the main reasons they are singled out for bullying.
This is exactly the character type that a child with high but unstable self-esteem, would find inherently challenging to them. Such children would not belong to the large social group that the bully needs to take respect from and would probably not be willing to compromise their view of the bully as someone not demanding such respect. Because they are more conservative in nature they are also those who are likely to self-exclude themselves from the “new” and shared bond making experiences that dominant children tend to engage in.
None of this, in any way suggests that bullied children are to blame or are abnormal in some way. Rather it is to illustrate how bullies are unable to cope/deal with and are “attracted” to children of a certain character type or disposition. It is the Bully that needs to change not the bullied. However in saying all of this a bullied child may be able to learn social strategies that deflect attention away from themselves.