child safety

Why Are Some Kids Bullies?

why are some kids bullies? Why are some kids bullies?

There are many theories on what causes violent and/or anti-social behavior in children.

Increased exposure to violence through mass media, video games, and the internet.

Suffering as victims of abuse or neglect themselves, or a generally more permissive society with a corresponding lack of discipline.

While certainly each of these theories has merit, there is no single cause of bullying behavior in children.

Characteristics of bullies

There are however certain generalized characteristics displayed by children who engage in such behavior.

Children who are impulsive, socially dominant, confrontational, or easily frustrated may tend towards bullying behaviors.

Other characteristics of children who bully may include a lack of empathy, a propensity to question authority and push limits or break rules, idealization of violence, and the ability to talk their way out of difficult situations.

It is commonly believed that children who bully are “loners” or are socially isolated. Research, however, shows this is not the case.

Children who bully generally do not have a difficult time making friends and generally maintain at least a small group of friends who support their bullying behavior.

Some bullies may even be popular; although the popularity of a bully tends to decrease at higher-grade levels.

Also, contrary to popular belief, research shows that children who bully do not lack self-esteem.

How kids become bullies

While boys are more likely to be bullies than girls, both boys and girls may bully and both may become victims.

Boy bullies are much more likely to engage in physical bullying. Bullying between girls is more likely to involve social exclusion, which is harder to discover, but no less painful for the victim.

Bullying generally takes place between children in the same grade level, although many times older students may bully younger students.

Environmental risk factors for bullying may come from the child’s home/family life, peers, or school.

Family risk factors:

  • Lack of involvement in child’s interests, activities, and daily life
  • Lack of supervision
  • Overly permissive, lack of limits
  • Harsh, physical discipline

Peer risk factors:

  • Engage in bullying behaviors
  • Support bullying behaviors
  • Idealize violence

School risk factors:

  • Unsupervised break times
  • Unsupervised student areas such as lunchrooms, bathrooms, hallways, locker rooms, playgrounds
  • Apathy towards bullying on the part of teachers and administrators
  • Inconsistent rule enforcement

Girls Being Bullies

Social exclusion is the most common form of bullying between girls. This form of girl-on-girl bullying can be very difficult to detect.. Being difficult to detect means it is difficult for parents or school officials to intervene.

Think of it as the “Mean Girls” syndrome. This behavior may begin as early as grade school, but probably peaks in junior high. It entails social isolation, vicious lies and rumors, and constant harassment.

This type of bullying is focused on humiliating the victim and is generally carried out over long periods of time. It can be psychologically devastating for the victim.

The bully in this situation is generally very popular, smart, charming, and attractive – generally viewed positively by adults. This girl usually has a clique of girls at her beck and call eager to join in on the harassment of the chosen victim.

This form of bullying is slow, drawn-out, calculated, manipulative torture of the victim. The effects on the victim can be so severe as to result in depression, eating disorders, transferring or dropping out of school, and/or suicidal thoughts or attempts.

It is not as easy to recognize as the black eyes and playground brawls of more traditional, physical bullying, but it is certainly no less significant.

What are signs your child may be a bully?

What are signs your child is being bullied?

What are the effects of bullying?

How we as parents can intervene.

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