Why is it that some kids are more likely to get bullied, while others rarely get bullied at all?

Why is it that some kids are more likely to get bullied, while others rarely get bullied at all?

Though bullying is never okay in any setting, we all know that when adults are not looking, bullies take advantage of the moment and exert power over others. Let’s take a look at all the possible roles your child can play in the social dynamics of a class. The 4 possible roles are:
Bully – This is the child who has an unhealthy need to exert power over someone else in order to feel good about himself or herself. Now we all have a need to feel valuable, but it becomes unhealthy when that need is fulfilled by putting others down. Different forms of bullying are: name-calling, belittling, intentional excluding, touching, threatening, and taking things.
Victim – These are the kids who get belittled, excluded, threatened, or hurt.
Bystander – These are the kids who don’t get involved, yet watch it all happening.
Champion – These are the kids who are not afraid to speak up to bullies and in doing so preserve both their own dignity, and that of the bully’s. Sometimes they are popular, and sometimes they just have a few friends, but everyone likes them and feel safe around them.

It goes without say that the goal of a school is to ensure an environment that is emotionally safe both emotionally, and physically. Our goal as parents is to educate our children about the different roles, and encourage our children to WANT to be the champion. We tell kids that they do have choices.
I recently interviewed several children who play the champion role. A particular eighth grade girl shared with me that when she noticed a few girls being mean to a girl who was more socially challenged, she approached them and asked them why they were doing that. I decided to ask her where she gets such courage from. Her answer was, “They will either listen to me or they won’t….and if they end up not liking me for it, they are not worth being friends with anyway.” That’s what I call being proactive!
I happen to know that she herself NEVER gets bullied and is very well-liked by the kids in her class. When I shared this story with a different class, a child raised her hand and said that approaching the bully like that can jeopardize some of her friendships. My answer to her was that “EVERYONE MAKES CHOICES.” I tell kids that they have choices in life. They can either be bystanders or victims, and have fake friendships with bullies, or they can approach the bullies in a kind way, and risk having the bully not like them. What surprises kids most is that sometimes when the child playing the bully role is approached, he or she will back down. Remember, the bully is just as precious a child as any other, but unfortunately has a misconception that their value comes from exerting power over others. I’ve seen kids in the bully roles back down, repent, and with proper guidance, even apologize.
I also recently interviewed a 5th grader who plays the champion role in her class. There is a child in her class who smashes into other kids, and is quick to dismiss or belittle other people’s opinions. Many kids in her class were complaining about being bullied by her. When I asked a particular child who behaves as a champion in her class, why she never gets bothered by her, this was her response. “Once in a while she does smash into me or dismiss my opinion, but it’s very, very rare.” When I asked her why it’s rare, she responded, “I am not sure, but a few months ago, I went over to her and said, “You probably don’t realize but sometimes when kids have ideas, you make it like your idea is better and you put down other people’s ideas.” I didn’t even ask this 5th grader what the other girl’s response was because it’s not even important. The point is that the girl who was bothering all the other kids in the class was rarely coming near this champion girl.

Go over the 4 roles with your kids. Ask them which role they are currently in. Ask them if they think a person can come out of one role and move into another, what the pros and cons of staying in a negative role are, and how they can be proactive about making new choices. Let’s teach our kids to be champions!