Have you ever wondered why a bully bullies? If you look deep enough, there are usually a host of reasons why a bully feels the need to pick on others.
A study conducted by Brunel University in the United Kingdom surveyed bullies and their motives. The study was comprised of 666 students, ages 12 to 16, from 14 different schools who had recently reported bullying others. The bullies were compared to a group of 478 students who had not engaged in bullying. Participants completed a questionnaire on bullying behavior to assess why bullies bully, mental health, substance abuse issues and demographic data.
Bullies with the most hostility admitted to picking on kids who were not good at sports or those they perceived to be gay. Unfortunately, many schools have not addressed the issue of homosexuality, a topic that needs to be discussed and brought out in the open in order to create a more accepting and tolerant environment.
It comes as no surprise that bullies were more likely than non-bullies to live in homes without two biological parents, such as living with a single parent, with extended family members or with foster parents. This indicates that bullies do not receive as much attention and guidance at home. Some bullies act out because they have been victims of bullying as well, possibly by a parent or other adult.
Bullies typically share common characteristics such as aggressiveness, hostility, poor social skills and poor judgment. They are often hiding deep insecurities, propelling them to dominate and pick on those whom they envy.
The study also found that bullies were at higher risk for alcohol and substance abuse. Fifty-nine percent of bullies reported that they had been offered alcohol in the last seven days compared with just 28.5 percent of non-bullies.
Bullies were at a higher risk for mental problems such as depression, anxiety, and hostility.
The study uncovered a surprising factor. According to researcher, Ian Rivers of Brunel University, the research indicates that bullying is about social attitudes expressing themselves within a school environment. According to Rivers, “…if the school really upholds sports, kids who are not good at sports are going to be victimized because they are not living up to the expectations of others." It seems that the ideals of a community may influence bullying behavior.
Unfortunately, there are some adults who may perpetuate bullying whether by accident or on purpose. A gym teacher who favors the athletic kids is perpetuating the idea that if you do not live up to the expectations of the community, then you are weak, thus giving the bullies more motivation to continue bullying. This is an unfortunate occurrence in life, but chances are, another trusted adult will be willing to listen and do something. The antiquated and harmful belief that bullying is a rite of passage can change if enough people come forward and say NO to bullying.
Bullies on Bullying: Why We Do It
Dealing with Bullying
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