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Peer Victimization, A Psychological Perspective

Updated: May 26, 2020

Peer victimization is an umbrella term for all kinds of negative actions. Many terms are used similar to peer victimization like bullying, abusing, ragging, harassing etc.,. It differs from these terms by concerning age, social setting, type of perpetrator and victim. Pre adolescence is the age in between 10 - 13 years. But, what is peer victimization? If the adolescents or pre-adolescents are mobbing or harming an individual as a target by their peers or the same age grouped, then it is termed as peer victimization. Then the target is named as a victim and the person who attacks was called a perpetrator.

Types of peer victimization

Attacks may be of many kinds like

Physical - hitting, punching, pinching, etc.,

Verbal - using bad words, teasing, calling with nicknames, etc.

Relational - avoiding, gossiping, cracking jokes behind them, etc.

Reputation - stealing or damaging personal things

Electronic - sending nasty messages or videos

Sexual - commenting on secondary sexual characteristics

Factors that influence peer victimization:

Mostly, children with no friends or with very few friends will become targets. If these targets lack defending skills then they will become as victims. Attackers or perpetrators are mostly peers or of the same age group of victims. Sometimes, victims will change and act as a perpetrator. These actions are mostly taking place in the social environment. The best examples of action are seen mostly in the school settings, lonely student or less interactive student or low graded student was teased a lot than class topper or a student with more friends.

There are several causes behind the perpetrator's behavior to attack and victim behavior to bear the abusing. Every child born with the same skills and behavior but, in between the child and perpetrator or victim transition, a lot of situations and things influence their life. Like demographics (religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, etc.,), hereditary (genes which influence to dominate or to be recessive), home environment (exposure to violence or over pampering) outside environment (observing attacking behaviors in their neighborhood or school). Mostly, victims with low intelligence, low social skills, no or few friends, low achievements, etc.

Effects of peer victimization on child mental health:

Both the attacker and the victim have to face serious mental health problems. In psychological terms, these kinds of behavior causes internalizing problems like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders in victims and externalizing problems like aggression and impulsivity in the perpetrator or both internalizing and externalizing problems in the perpetrator. These kinds of problems may make children behave like victims or perpetrator or they pose these predispositions to behave like a victim or perpetrator. If these behavior roots into a child then, they will slowly adapt anti-social behavior. If failed to alter or control this behavior it may lead to suicide also, in severe cases.

How to protect children from peer victimization?

By, proper parenting style and good social environments helps child to be less prone to social problems. Parents have to maintain proper communication with their children so that, the child can easily disclose their painful moments without any fear. Parents have to avoid watching violent movies and educate the child with proper interpersonal skills, empathy, and coping skills to overcome such situations. In school, teachers should help the child to be healthy physically, mentally, and socially. Teacher should maintain healthy relationships with students and help them when they are going through tough situations. To reduce and eradicate, Schools, should take proper actions regarding such mischievous behavior so that students won’t dare to do such negative actions.

Be yourself, don’t worry about what other people are thinking of you, because they’re probably feeling the same kind of scared, horrible feelings that everyone does, yet out of emotional control.’

‘Conformity is not an admirable trait. Conformity is a copout.

It threatens self-awareness. It can lead you into rigidity’


Katta Bhagya Ratnam, Psychologist

*Note: All these pictures are taken from Google free sources.

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