Do Bigger Kids Get Bullied More?

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The endlessly compelling Casey Heynes story confirms for me something I'd been thinking about for a long time: The traditional picture of the big kid bullying the runty kid is wrong -- or at least not completely right. Being big is no protection against being bullied. In fact, it may make you a prime candidate.

And it's true whether we're talking about someone a little chubby like Casey or tall and gawky like Eric Mohat, who didn't get the same satisfying ending. His 2009 suicide got me thinking about size-and-bullying in the first place.

Bullies most of all seek those who stand out. And how can you possibly stand out more than if you're literally standing above everyone else?

I'm going by just a few anecdotal experiences and stories. With a little Googling, I couldn't find any scientific studies on the exact subject. If anyone knows of any or has more experience with this, please chime in in comments.

But there are several things it seems that put a target on the back of bigger kids. 

Awkwardness: Oversized teens, even if they're football offensive linemen with fabulous footwork, can often have a discomfort with their newly huge bodies that leap out at potential bullies. 

Big kid = early bloomer: If a kid is sprouting several inches above his classmates, he's probably sprouting hair on his pits and pubes, too. And rocking a squeaky voice and some strange smells from his glands, and maybe even a dirt 'stache. While it's better than being the last one to go through puberty, being first can be plenty brutal, too. I'm speaking from experience on this one.

Picking on a big kid looks more impressive: Smaller bullies, like the one in Casey's video, often have something to prove. The one true bully I ever dealt with was a tiny little point guard on the basketball team. If he didn't like you, he'd pee on you in the shower. Ah, high school. The glory days.

The strength that comes with size isn't always helpful even if it's there. Most bullied kids won't fight back even if they know they can. They're often outnumbered anyway -- making size irrelevant. 

And I'm mostly talking about boys here, but big girls can get it worse. I can think of a pair of towering girls who were relentlessly teased in grade school for no other reason than their size. The cruel schoolyard thinks it's even less acceptable in them. Six-foot-tall 13-year-old girl Morgan Musson killed herself in Britain last week because, her mom said, of relentless bullying over her height.

Of course it sucks to be small. But small can at times also mean inconspicuous. It sucks that you have to, but it's a little easier to go unnoticed.

In the long run, if you're going to get bullied, it's better to be big than small. Most who get teased, shoved, and punched don't have a big body-slam waiting in their back pocket for the day when they've finally had enough. Which is what Casey Heynes' bully got. (Seen above.)

And for what it's worth -- since everyone apparently needs to have their take on the Casey story -- I think he both did the right thing and should have been punished. Schools can't be in the business of condoning violence even in retaliation -- and usually there's no video evidence to show whose story's true anyway. But kids -- and hopefully their parents -- can decide that sometimes you have to take your detention or suspension and accept it as the price you pay for justice.

Are you worried about bullies or bullying with your child?  


Image via BradleyPJohnson/Flickr

middle school, in the news, high school, bullies, boys

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nonmember avatar Gertie

I am very tall. I was bullied in junior high. Sometimes, I am glad I have sons... because it is not easy being a very tall teenage girl.

Jeric... Jerichos_Mommy

Jericho starts school in the fall.  I hope he isn't bullied but if he is I hope he will let me know.  In grade school three of us were bullied.  Jennifer was way overweight and had an odor.  Amy was very tall near 6 feet in 4th grade.  Then there was me, my reak dad wasn' inthe picture and I WAS THE ONLY redhead around.

Pbutt... Pbuttercup0625

I am super short, and was even shorter growing up, I was always at least 2 years behind in height and I got picked on.  But after I punched the kid in the face in 3rd grade after repeatedly telling him to stop, I didn't get picked anymore after that.

mumma... mummajenni

I'm also really tall and can remember being teased for it from the 5th grade all the way through high school. Although 5th thru 7th grades were the worst for the bullying aspects, because once they 'had' me for being tall, it opened it up to anything else and I wasn't a fighter. Like another mom, I'm glad I have a boy now, and I won't hesitate to encourage him to defend himself like Casey did.

mommy... mommythree0508

There's always a reason for kids to be bullied. I'm not too worried about it. If it happens,we'll deal with it.

ilove... ilovemyboys84

i think kids bully for a few reasons, 1 can be because they learn what they see at home..and 2 because they want to fit in with there friends who are bullies.

ilove... ilovemyboys84

we have aleady dealt with bullying with my oldest son at school and when the schools and bus garage failed to do anything about it and it became physical i told my son to fight back...once i told the schools and busses i told my son to hit this kid (who was smaller than him) until he was made to stop if the kid hit him again is whent hey finally stepped in..which is beyond sad...i am now going to the school board with this issue

ceciliam ceciliam

I'm hoping my son will not have to deal with bullying. I teach him now about treating people the way you want to be treated....

nonmember avatar Kay

I agree with this. I have always been a tall girl, & once kids reached that age of actually noticing who is "different" (fourth grade) I was bullied by boys and girls pretty consistantly. My self-esteem was always very low. My younger brother was both tall & overweight growing up he & was also bullied pretty badly until he fought back one day. It's so sad to see this keep happening. It doesn't really matter WHY kids are bullied, it just needs to stop.

KTMOM KTMOM

I definitely worry about it, but have spent my son's entire elementary school career working to make sure he is strong, confident, and kind.  He goes out of his way to help the special needs kids and is very compassionate,  so I do not worry about him being a bully... I do worry about HIM being bullied because he is smaller than some kids and I was bullied badly as a kid.

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