While there is no single profile of a bullying victim, there are characteristics that make a child more likely, on average, to become victimized. Researchers say that socially marginalized children, whether because of sexual orientation or disability, are more likely to be bullied. Bullying also “plays out differently across gender and age, ethnicity and race,” professors Danah Boyd and John Palfrey wrote for “The Kinder & Braver World Project: Research Series,” a 2012 synthesis of research on bullying published by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
There are also situations that cause a child to become a more likely target for bullies, some researchers say. Children who are new to school or who do not have friends are more likely to be bullied than those with a more secure social network.
None of this is to say that bullying won’t happen to anyone; many researchers simply urge schools and policy makers to recognize these risk factors.