Bullying and taunting of gifted children and teenagers are all too common. Learn why gifted students are more likely to be bullied and at more risk of being targeted, plus find out how it can affect them.
Purdue University researchers found that by eighth grade, more than two-thirds of bright students had been bullied; 19 percent of the bullying was based on their intelligence and academic performance.
According to a review of studies on bullying and gifted kids from 1970 to 2014, talented students are attacked at the same rate as other target groups, but they are also targeted for distinct reasons (sometimes slightly more, sometimes slightly less), and they may respond to bullying differently.
How Bullying Affects Gifted Children
One of the reasons gifted adolescents are bullied is that they receive so much attention, resources, and opportunities due to their excellent school achievement. As a result of their jealousy or fear of their own personal and academic success, bullies target their victims.
Additionally, they may be referred to as the “teacher’s pet” or a “know-it-all” because of their status.
Gifted students stand out from their peers because of their superior intellectual talents. This makes them tempting prey for bullies.
It’s also common for gifted pupils to be placed in groups or taken out of the classroom to participate in extracurricular activities. When this occurs, they become more noticeable and stand out from the rest of the students. While separating them from the rest of the class or putting them in separate courses is a good idea because it makes school interesting, it also restricts their exposure to their friends and peers. Some children may feel isolated and resentful due to this separation, leading to harassment and bullying.
Some brilliant children may also display aberrant behavior due to their overexcitability, which draws attention and might lead to them being targeted. As a result of their exceptional achievements and unique personalities, some brilliant children are less likely to have a big network of friends who can protect them from bullying.
When it comes to bullying, the bullying of bright students tends to peak around middle school, just like other forms of bullying. In high school, bullying becomes less common but still a significant problem.
Exactly What Effects Does Bullying Have on Gifted Children?
Even though bullying is harmful to all children, exceptional or gifted students are more likely to bullied. As a result, how they react to bullying may differ. Bullying can have a significant influence on gifted children in a variety of ways.
They see their academic prowess as a defect in their character. Gifted youngsters may begin to see their intelligence as a weakness if they are bullied because of their intellectual abilities. They may begin to doubt their talents or think there is something wrong with them due to this skewed view of the world. They may also feel ashamed of their abilities in the classroom.
They don’t show off their talents. As a gifted student, you know that your academic abilities set you apart from your peers. As a result, individuals may hide their talents and attempt to be like everyone else to appear more normal. There’s a chance they’ll go so far as to give in class.
They make an effort to make things better. It is common for gifted youngsters to be self-starters and self-sufficient. As a result, students may even accept responsibility for the bullying in their own classrooms at times.
They prefer to fix things on their own rather than seek aid from others, especially gifted kids.
Increased focus on detail. The majority of gifted children are self-critical perfectionists. As a result, they hold themselves to exceedingly high standards and avoid making mistakes or failing at anything. It is possible that bullying is a warning to them that “something is wrong with me,” and they need to repair themselves so that bullies no longer target them.
When they can’t fix the problem or accomplish their goals, they feel victimized, leading to increased anxiety and sadness. Gifted children may become even more critical of themselves if they see bullying as a personal failure. That’s why gifted students are more likely to be bullied.
Bullying is a mystery to them.
Gifted students may become absorbed in their analysis of the bullying issue since they don’t understand why it’s happening. They may pore over every detail of the situation, from the bully’s motivations to the bullied’s own flaws.
For them, it’s a matter of finding out what’s going on so that they can either change or stop it from happening in the first place. There is an issue, however, because bullying rarely goes away on its own. In addition, gifted children are frequently concerned about social justice concerns. They may find it difficult to comprehend acts of brutality and hostility.
They have a strong reaction to what they see.
Gifted students are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of verbal bullying (such as teasing and threatening behavior) and interpersonal aggressiveness (silent treatment, gossip, social exclusion).
They may have a hard time dealing with the pain of only one incidence of bullying, making it difficult for them to move on. As a result, they may feel sad and at risk for suicide. Nearly a third of bright children report having unspoken wrath and violent thoughts after being bullied, according to research.
They get disinterested in their studies.
Like other victims of bullying, Gifted students become disinterested in their studies, neglect their responsibilities, and even skip class. However, the reasons for this diverge. Due to bullying for doing well in school, kids may not see sense in continuing to put forth the effort.
Keep in mind, that whilst it may be tempting for bullies to target a brilliant student, this does not mean they are to blame for the bullying. Similarly, they should not be made to alter to prevent bullying. An alternative is to give children the tools they need to not only defend themselves from bullies but also to report incidents of bullying when they do occur.
The bottom line, gifted students are more likely to be bullied. And it’s our job as parents to see if they are being bullied.