5 Reasons Teens Get Bullied

By Staff Writer

The incidence of teen bullying is on the rise, with teens all over the world experiencing depression and anxiety, avoiding school, and even losing their lives because of unrelenting harassment. How do bullies select their targets? Is your child one of them?

Here are five of the most common reasons teens fall prey to bullying:

1) Being Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender

Research shows that gay teens get bullied two to three times more than heterosexual teens. Interestingly, studies also show that gay and lesbian teens are the least likely to bully others. Even when a victim is not actually gay, bullies may use homosexual slurs and disparaging remarks to taunt their peers.

Bullying is not a mere rite of passage or a natural part of being gay. In fact, bullying contributes to physical and mental health problems as well as an elevated risk of suicide among gay teens.

2) Being Shy or Socially Awkward

Teens who are shy, isolated or socially awkward tend to be targets for bullies. Bullies search for victims who they perceive as weak in hopes that they’ll be too embarrassed to report the bullying to an authority figure.

3) Having a Learning Disability or Emotional or Behavioral Disorder

Bullies target kids who are different. Studies show that teens with learning disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, and even food allergies are at increased risk of being bullied. For example, teens with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often struggle to keep up with their classmates in reading and are taunted because of it. Left untreated, teens with ADHD and other disorders can be prime targets for bullies.

4) Having Low Self-Esteem

Bullies often target teens who seem like they won’t put up a fight. Kids whose body language, speech or demeanor suggests that they’ll put up with verbal abuse or physical attacks without retort may attract teen bullies. Of course, many of these adolescents are simply quiet, introspective or mild-natured, and should never be blamed or shamed into feeling that they brought the bullying on themselves.

5) Posing a Threat

Bullies sometimes taunt and ridicule students who pose a threat to their popularity, status or confidence. By nature, bullies tend to be aggressive and believe they are superior to others. A teen whose academic performance, athletic prowess or growing popularity become intimidating to a school bully may find themselves the target of harassment.

Words hurt, especially when repeated over and over for long periods of time. If your child is being bullied, don’t assume they’ll get over it or learn to cope with it on their own. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the emotional and psychological effects of bullying.

There are programs that can help bullied teens work through the trauma they’ve endured and develop healthy self-esteem. By getting away from a tortuous situation at school and focusing on their own development, teens can learn new skills for handling bullies and learn to accept and love themselves for who they are.