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  • Writer's pictureClara Wajngurt

Exploring the Nature of Bullying: 3 Types of Victims

Updated: Feb 6, 2019

So as we discussed in the previous blog, a bullying incident involves the bully, the victim and the bystander.

Bullies tend to select targets who seem to have been victimized before, or appear to look like they can be victimized in the bully's eyes. Olweus describes three types of victims. I will use the more appropriate word of  target instead of victim: Passive targets do not provoke the bully directly. Socially, the passive target may seem withdrawn or even anxious, depressed, fearful, withdrawn, lonely or nervous about getting involved in new social situations. So bullies detect vulnerability and take advantage of such social situations.When the bully acts on the passive target, this creates an unending cycle of lowered self-esteem, depression and anxiety for the passive target, making the passive target vulnerable to future bullies.

Vicarious targets are passive targets who witness or hear about bullying incidents at their workplace. Vicarious targets are targets of their workplace climate and exhibit an increased fear and worry about their own potential to become targets of bullying. As a result of their perceived vulnerability and fear of direct retribution, they choose not to help targets nor to report  bullying incidents as bystanders-even if they feel sympathy towards the target who has been bullied. False targets are passive targets who complain frequently-- generally without justification, to their colleagues about being bullied by others. Perhaps false targets are looking for attention and sympathy from other colleagues. Perpetual targets are those passive targets who have been bullied all their lives. The perpetual target may develop a 'victim-like' mentality where their victimization is part of their thinking. Provocative targets are targets that arouses a negative reaction from colleagues around them. Some reactions that colleagues can have around a provocative target is anger or irritation.The provocative target can disrupt a meeting causing peers to feel hostility towards the "provocative target"and the target's social anxiety can cause others to dislike them.  Olweus describes three 'victims'  (or targets) of bullying: passive, provocative and the bully victim - who is both a bully in certain circumstances and a 'victim' in other circumstances. What we need -- is to educate our workforce so that healthy ways of communication are used in the workplace so that one does not exhibit bullying behavior nor serve as a potential target for bullies.


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