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What Is Peer Victimization?

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  • Written By: Valerie Goldberg
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Peer victimization occurs when a group of people continually harass another person either verbally or physically. This usually happens among children, and the child who is being picked on can become isolated and depressed. A majority of children who are victimized by peers are quiet in nature and feel too scared to stand up for themselves. These children might become the target of humiliation because they are shy or like to dress differently from classmates. There are some more rare cases of peer victimization in which the bullied children draw attention to themselves by teasing others because they lack the social skills to engage with peers properly.

It takes only a handful of children to be the aggressors to cause peer victimization. There might be other children in the class who do not directly tease the victim, but these children are often too concerned with protecting their own image to stand up for the victim. This leaves the victim feeling all alone with no one supporting him or her.

Many bullies stay in power by essentially trying to control the whole class. Even though a bully's insults might be reserved for one targeted person, the rest of the class is still affected. Students might be afraid to try to be nice to the target because they live in fear that the bully will start treating them like the target if they do so.

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Parents and teachers can benefit from learning to deal with both sides of peer victimization. The aggressor likely will get punished at school and at home for his or her behavior, after the situation reaches a breaking point. It is important for adults to remember that victims can learn something from the situation as well. Although the victim might not have done anything wrong, adults can teach the victimized child how to stand up for himself or herself in the future if more bullying occurs. It also can be beneficial for a child who has been the target of peer victimization to find a place where he or she can fit in and regain self-confidence, such as a dance class or sports team.

Children who are the target of peer victimization through most or all of their junior high school and high school years can be at high risk for depression, anxiety and suicide. If these issues are not dealt with properly, they can influence the way that the person deals with life as he or she becomes and adult. It is important for parents to seek counseling for victimized children.

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