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Low Self-Esteem and Bullying: How are they related?

Updated on Mar 2, 2011

Advocates of the self-esteem movement of the 1980s argued that raising a child's self-esteem was critical to decreasing academic and social problems. For this, and other reasons, a long-standing myth was born that bullies suffer from poor self-concept. The truth is just the opposite:

  • Bullies perceive themselves in a positive light, perhaps sometimes displaying inflated self-views. High self-esteem can sometimes encourage bullies to rationalize their antisocial actions.2
  • Children and youth who are victims are more likely than other children to have low self-esteem.1
    • What is not known is whether children with low-esteem are more likely to be bullied or whether bullying damages the self-concept of the victim.
References:
  1. Linda A. Cedeno, Maurice J. Elias. How Do You Know When Your Student Or Child Is Being Victimized and How Can You Help?
  2. Sandra Graham. Some Myths and Facts about Bullies and Victims.
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