Bullying: Children Who Bully
Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Typically, it is repeated over time. Bullying can take many forms such as hitting or punching (physical bullying); teasing or name-calling (verbal bullying); intimidation through gestures or social exclusion (nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying); and sending insulting messages by e-mail (cyberbullying).
There is no one single cause of bullying among children. Rather, individual, family, peer, school, and community factors can place a child or youth at risk for bullying his or her peers.
Characteristics of children who bully
Children who bully their peers regularly (i.e., those who admit to bullying more than occasionally) tend to:
- Be impulsive, hot-headed, dominant;
- Be easily frustrated;
- Lack empathy;
- Have difficulty following rules; and
- View violence in a positive way.
Boys who bully tend to be physically stronger than other children.
Family risk factors for bullying
Children who bully are more likely than their nonbullying peers to live in homes where there is:
- A lack of warmth and involvement on the part of parents;
- Overly-permissive parenting (including a lack of limits for children’s behavior);
- A lack of supervision by parents;
- Harsh, physical discipline; and
- A model for bullying behavior.
Peer risk factors for bullying
Children and youth who bully are more likely to have friends who bully and who have positive attitudes toward violence.
Common myths about children who bully
'Children who bully are loners.'
- In fact, research indicates that children and youth who bully are not socially isolated.
- They report having an easier time making friends than children and youth who do not bully.
- Children and youth who bully usually have at least a small group of friends who support or encourage their bullying.
'Children who bully have low self-esteem.'
- In fact, most research indicates that children and youth who bully have average or above-average self-esteem.
- Interventions that focus on building the self-esteem of children who bully probably will be ineffective in stopping bullying behavior.
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