Who Are Likely Victims?
From an early age, some children seem to have traits that make them likelier victims. In a 1995 study, University of Illinois researchers talked to a group of kindergartners at the start of the school year and found 22% reporting that bullies were picking on them. By the end of the year, only 8% were being picked on, meaning the bullies had narrowed their focus. Why did some children continue to be abused, and not others? One theory is that shy or anxious children are more natural targets. Another is that children who are somewhat passive -- who don't protest or who cry if others snatch a toy -- open themselves up to future attacks.
As children grow, emotional abuse tends to replace physical bullying. "Girls in particular are adept at indirect kinds of bullying -- leaving one girl out of a group in hurtful ways," says psychologist Susan P. Limber, Ph.D., of Clemson University in South Carolina.