Fat Kids Get Teased, Not Poor Kids

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Social & Emotional Growth: Tweens, Research Reveals: Tweens

Weight makes kids a target for teasing. Credit: Getty Images

It took a study to figure this out?

Kids have discerning taste when it comes to choosing whom they will tease. While the pool of targets remains obvious -- those whose looks and behavior differ from their own -- teasers will hone in on peers whose deficits appear to be in their victim's control, according to a new study out of Kansas State University

Researchers discovered these results after they presented third- and sixth-graders with hypothetical profiles of kids who were poor, nonathletic, obese, aggressive, shy, asthmatic and had attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder. Participants then rated statements about the hypothetical kids' abilities to control and change their conditions. Researchers also asked their young participants if they would help that kind of person.

The results

Collectively, sixth-grade boys have the lowest tolerance. Girls generally had more compassion for their less-than-cool peers. However, kids felt empathy for the hypothetical kids if they knew someone possessing the same trait.

Among the hypothetical profiles, aggressive kids fared the worst, making them the most likely to be teased. Girls were perceived as having more power to change themselves than boys because girls seek out and follow the advice of adults. Overall, kids were not interested in helping those they perceive to be different.

The good news

Interestingly, participants demonstrated a remarkable understanding of the gross domestic product and international financial markets -- some referenced the fall of Enron as the beginning of the end -- and their effect on the accumulation of wealth for the unluckiest of Americans. Thus, poor kids were less likely to be teased.

Has your child been teased? If so, for what? Or, is your child a teaser?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.