The characteristics of bullying and sexual abuse perpetrated by minors is often similar:
- A positive attitude toward violence
- A need to dominate others, be popular & in control
- Impulsive, aggressive behavior
- Lack of empathy toward bullied or less popular children
Bullied children and sexually abused children also share similar characteristics:
- Low self esteem, depression, eating disorders
- Moodiness, withdrawal, anxiety
- Feigning illness, sleeping more
- Change in clothing, appearance
Bullies may be more apt to target less popular, less confident, or younger peers for abuse & exploitation. Conversely, children with lower self-esteem may be at a greater risk to be abused because they may seek to feel accepted, liked by their peers and find themselves in situations that compromise their safety.
When children are sexually abused by a peer, they are often exploited, shamed, and mocked in school. Meanwhile, there are many of their peers that fall into the “bystander” category – they do not condone what is happening to the abused/bullied child, but don’t know what to do about it or are hesitant to do so and face negative attention themselves.
Sections on this page have been adapted from TheMamaBearEffect