A task equally important to creating a universal definition of bullying is to identify the population of children who are bullied, and if possible to distinguish them from other children who have interpersonal difficulties in the school setting.
Although there have been studies that have identified characteristics of the victim that are correlated with the occurrence of bullying, efforts to define this population at a more global level are missing. In order to best address this issue, it makes sense to examine the literature on neglected and rejected 7children and try to determine if the children who are victims of bullying resemble either of these two groups. The neglected and rejected children through a peer nomination process that asked children to identify the peers in their class that they liked the least and the peers in their class that they liked the most.
Neglected children were defined as those children who received a low number of both positive and negative peer nominations. Rejected children were defined as children who received a low number of positive peer nominations and a high number of negative peer nominations. Several studies examining the characteristics of these two groups of children have been conducted. For the most part, the studies have come to similar conclusions in terms of the behavioral characteristics of each population. In terms of definitions, neglected children appear to be a more cohesive group.
Fresently there is a general understanding of rejected children but this group is not as cohesive and, in fact, there is support for the hypothesis that there are subgroups of rejected children. This review will begin with a discussion of the findings regarding neglected and rejected children and then proceed with a discussion about a subgroup of rejected children, nonaggressive-rejected children, who may best fit the description of the population of children who are deemed victims of bullying.
In a meta-analytic study of neglected and rejected children. Significant facts specific to the neglected children involved the absence of aggressive behaviors coupled with a strong tendency to be less sociable with peers. Even though the tendency was for these children to engage in solitary play, they were noted to have the communication and problem-solving skills necessary to facilitate their interactions in peer groups.
Examination of specific variables such as depression and anxiety, as a result of not being actively involved in peer-group activities, indicated that depression and anxiety are not a problem for these children. It seems that the absence of involvement in peer activities is much more a choice versus an active rejection. The behavioral characteristics of the victims of bullying and their response pattern appear to be highly similar to the nonaggressive- rejected children. These children potentially form the ideal target for the bully. They quietly yield to the demands of the bully, and because of this, set the stage for repeated victimization.