AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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Identifying Bullies & Victims

Bullies can best be defined by their personality style. Researchers describe bullies as:

  • Enjoying aggression and the rewards gained from aggressive acts;
  • Lacking empathy for their victim;
  • Lacking guilt for their actions;
  • Dominating and like to be in charge;
  • Having aggressive role models; and
  • Thinking unrealistically about how the world should meet their needs.

There are two types of victims: passive victims and provocative victims. Passive victims generally do not defend themselves and can be characterized by:

  • Being isolated during the school day;
  • Lacking social skills;
  • Being physically weak;
  • Crying or yielding easily to bullies;
  • Suffering from past trauma; and/or
  • Having learning difficulties.

Provocative victims generally tease and provoke bullies, but do not have the social or physical skills necessary to defend themselves. Provocative victims can be characterized by:

  • Being easy to arouse emotionally;
  • Behaving in a manner that maintains the conflict; and/or
  • Possibly having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Children who are being bullied may likely:

  • Have torn, damaged or missing pieces of clothing, books or other belongings;
  • Have unexplained cuts, bruises or scratches from fighting;
  • Have few, if any, friends with whom he or she spends time;
  • Seem afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers;
  • Lose interest in school work or suddenly begin to do poorly; and/or
  • Complain frequently of headaches, stomach aches or other physical problems.