Some Things Never Change: Kids With Glasses Are Still More Likely to be Bullied

Originally published by NVISION

Bullying often happens at school, and children who wear glasses are common targets. It can be verbal, physical, or both, and it often happens at school.

Bullying involves a power imbalance, which can be real or perceived. It also involves unwanted and aggressive behavior, repetition, and the potential to be continually repeated.

Maltreatment can negatively impact a child, resulting in declining grades, lower self-esteem, social withdrawal, mental health concerns, and self-harming behaviors.

Educating children on the harm of bullying, and when to step up and help someone, can help to prevent bullying. There are many resources available to help children who are experiencing bullying.

Information on Childhood Bullying & Glasses

Just over 20 percent, or one out of every five students, reports being bullied. A major reason for being the victim of bullying is physical appearance.

Wearing glasses as a child can increase the risk of being bullied. A study shows that pre-teens have a one-third greater risk of being bullied when they wear glasses or an eye patch. Glasses are commonly perceived by young children as not attractive, and this can make someone who wears them a target for bullying.

Bullying involves intentional, unwanted, and repeated aggressive behaviors along with a real or perceived imbalance of power. It frequently happens among school-aged children.

Statistics on childhood bullying show the following:

  • Verbal abuse is most common; 13 percent of those bullied report being called names, made fun of, or insulted, and 12 percent report having rumors spread about them.
  • Sixth graders are bullied most often; 31 percent report being bullied.
  • Girls are bullied more than boys: 23 percent versus 19 percent.
  • Race and ethnicity can play a role; 25 percent of Black children, 22 percent of Caucasian children, 17 percent of Hispanic children, and 15 percent of Asian children report being bullied.
  • Bullying can also occur online; 10 percent of children bullied report being cyberbullied.

Verbal harassment is the most common form of bullying (79 percent); social harassment is second (50 percent); physical bullying comes next (29 percent); and cyberbullying is the fourth most common form of bullying (25 percent). Nearly half (44 percent) of children being bullied believe it is due to the way that they look — that their physical appearance was the reason.

Glasses change the way someone looks, and this could open a child up to bullying. Being perceived as “different,” which can include wearing glasses, by peers is a risk factor for bullying as is being perceived as weak or unable to defend oneself.

Harassment in School

Close to half of all children will experience bullying in school, and 10 percent are bullied on a regular basis. Harassment at school takes two main forms: verbal abuse and physical abuse. Both can be highly detrimental to learning, socializing, and a child’s self-view.

Verbal abuse can include name calling, intentionally leaving someone out of social situations, and starting rumors about others. Girl bullies are more prone to emotional warfare, belittling, and ostracizing others.

Boys are more likely to use force, aggression, and physical abuse, including pushing and shoving, tripping, spitting on others, making others do things against their will, and intentionally destroying property.

Bullying commonly occurs in the following areas:

  • Stairwells or hallways
  • Classrooms
  • Cafeterias
  • Outdoor school grounds
  • Bathrooms or locker rooms
  • School buses

The Impact of Bullying on Children

Bullying can put a child at risk for depression, anxiety, social withdrawal and loneliness, poor self-esteem, difficulties with interpersonal interactions, and self-harming behaviors and ideations.

Lower self-esteem

Bullying can make a child feel isolated, unwelcome, and unlovable, which can directly impact the way a child views themselves and lower their self-esteem. This lowered self-esteem can also make them a target for being victimized and bullied again.

When a child views themselves as less than others, it can lead to depression, a lack of motivation, poor production in school and dropping grades, and less interest in activities and the world around them.

Bullying, and being the victim of bullying, increases the risk for suicide. Children who are both bullied and participate in bullying themselves are at an especially high risk over their peers who have not experienced bullying in either direction.

Low self-esteem can make a child a target for bullying. Likewise, bullying can decrease self-esteem.

Interpersonal Issues

Someone who has few friends can be a target for bullies, especially children who look different, such as those that wear glasses. Being the victim of bullying can cause many interpersonal and social issues, leading to further social withdrawal and a loss of motivation to participate in group activities.

These are signs a child might be being bullied:

  • Loss of interest in schoolwork
  • Declining grades
  • Fear of being in school, being involved in group projects, and riding the bus
  • Avoiding the cafeteria and outdoor time
  • Unexplained torn clothing, missing or destroyed items, bruises, or cuts
  • Interacting with very few people and having few friends, if any
  • Withdrawal and seeming on edge, sad, and fearful
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Substance abuse
  • Changes in eating habits

Being the victim of bullying can also increase the odds that a child will become a bully themselves. Their experience of being bullied may cause them to start lashing out at other children.


Being the victim of bullying can lead to lasting psychological issues. Nearly a quarter of people who have been bullied experience mental health issues later in life, including social anxiety, anxiety disorders, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and depression. Anxiety disorders don’t just lead to poor mental health; they can also cause physical health issues.

Anxiety disorders can cause a person to be irritable, withdrawn, and triggered by past events. They may have nightmares and sleep difficulties, angry outbursts, focus and attention issues, and eating issues. Being bullied can cause social avoidance, loneliness, hypervigilance, isolation, and significant distress, all of which indicate social anxiety.

Bullying Prevention

Young children, preteens, and adolescents are at a high risk for bullying during a particularly important period of self-growth and development. Being bullied as a child can directly impact self-worth and mental health status.

Education and school programs can work to prevent bullying. Studies show that anti-bullying programs at schools can decrease bullying by nearly 25 percent.

Children need to understand the full impact of their actions. They need to know that bullying is harmful and has lasting effects on their peers. Students should be aware of the anti-bullying policies and resources at their school as well as how to stand up for someone being bullied. This means they must clearly know how to report bullying when they witness it.

Fostering an all-inclusive atmosphere that celebrates differences can help to decrease bullying that occurs based on lack of understanding and negative views of being “different.” For children with glasses, seeing themselves represented in popular media, such as in books and television shows, can help. It shows children that glasses are a normal part of life, and lots of kids wear them.

Bullying Resources & Helplines

There are many resources available, both to help with bullying prevention and intervention and to support children who are experiencing or have experienced bullying.

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