The Victim

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The victim is at the center of the bullying cycle. They are the focus of the bullying action. To understand the characteristics of the victim we must understand the impact the cycle has on them.

A large body of research has documented the difficulties associated with being bullied and with bullying other children. For instance, children who are bullied suffer more greatly from anxiety, depression, loneliness, and post-traumatic stress than do other children, and they have a heightened risk of suicide. Children who are bullied are more likely than other youngsters to experience peer rejection, conduct problems, anxiety, and academic difficulties, and to engage in rule-breaking behavior.

Victim can start the cycle

Recent research has shown that a substantial number of children have been victimized by bullying and have bullied others in turn. In one recent study, about one third of the children who either bullied others or were bullied themselves were identified as bully-victims. Research also suggest that a distinguishing feature of victims is that they struggle to control their emotions. For example, bully-victims may unintentionally prompt children to bully them again by reacting very emotionally to teasing, threats or physical aggression, and may have similar problems controlling feelings of anger and frustration, prompting them to retaliate. This means it is likely that a victim will intiate the bullying cycle as the bully.

Behavioral and emotional difficulties

Given that they experience a broader range of behavioral and emotional difficulties than do children who are either purely involved in bullying or the victims of bullying, it's not surprising that the victim shows social and emotional problems, such as anxiety, depression, peer rejection, and a lack of close friendships.

Also, children with a combination of behavioral and emotional problems are at greater risk for psychiatric disorders and criminal offences in young adulthood than are children dealing with only one of these problems, and have proven less responsive to a comprehensive school-based program for children with severe emotional disturbances. Making the young victim at risk later in life.


Watch as Dr. Lickona further explains the effects on the victim.

Effects of bullying video


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Return to Module 1 Understanding the Bullying Cycle