Hollywood movies and TV series sometimes create stereotypes, but sometimes they get it right. One of those things they get right is describing who usually gets bullied in schools and who the bullies are. An excellent example of accurate portrayal of school bullying can be seen during the first seasons of the musical show Glee, where we see a small group of students, mostly «geeks» and «nerds», join the school’s glee club —a troupe dedicated to dancing and singing. One of the most revealing parts though is when the school’s quarterback, Finn Hudson, a popular jock, joins the unpopular kids in the Glee Club and is seen struggling between being a part of the club while not losing his reputation as the popular all-star quarterback.
Children and teenagers at risk of being bullied usually have characteristics that set them apart from most of their peers. Finn Hudson, for example, was an all-star quarterback and former bully, but he turned out to be a great singer and dancer and joined the Glee club, composed mainly of students at the bottom of the social ladder. Consequently, he starts to get bullied by his old friends because he has something different that is not a socially well-perceived difference: he can sing and he can dance.
So, in real-world schools, what are the risk factors associated with becoming a target for bullies?
- Kids and teens who are perceived to be different from most of their peers. For example, they dress differently, are overweight, wear glasses.
- Kids and teens who are new at a school.
- Kids and teens from families that are at a lower socioeconomically stratus and hence cannot afford to have the things (clothes, cellphones, backpacks, even the type of notebooks used can be an influence) that “cool kids” have.
- Kids and teens with physical or mental disabilities.
- Kids and teens who are smarter than their peers and/or study a lot to get good grades.
- Kids and teens who are depressed, suffer from anxiety disorders or have low self-esteem.
- Kids and teens who are less popular and have one or two friends.
- Kids and teens that lack social skills (for example, “attention-seekers” or kids and teens who constantly antagonize their teachers and peers).