Thankfully, the issue of bullying has begun to get more attention in recent years, but many people still think it is just one of those things or victims should just toughen up. Being bullied can cause serious problems with self-esteem, and has can be a contributing factor to suicide. This article will illustrate some of the causes of bullying. By understanding what causes bullying we are better equipped to deal with it.
What makes a bully can be complex, and can include a number of factors. Some people even find themselves being occasional bullies without even realizing it. While there is no one reason that a person turns into a bully, there are come common factors in many cases. A common misconception is that bullies have low self-esteem. On the contrary, a study from UCLA found that most bullies have “almost ridiculously high self-esteem”. The same study showed that bullies are often popular in school, and their victims are often unpopular. This can make the pain of bullying even more brutal. However, both bullies and victims are simply playing roles, neither is a fixed personality quality. Bullies can learn to stop being bullies, and victims can also stop being victims.
Feeling Powerless in Their Own Lives
Bullying a way people claim a sort of power in their lives by victimising another. That person might have old shoes, be too short, too smart, too dumb, too feminine. The reason doesn’t really matter.
Sometimes the feelings of powerlessness come from a problem at home. For kids, this might be a situation such as excessive fighting in the home, parents getting a divorce, or a close family member suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol. For adults, problems in a marriage from disloyalty to general estrangement may lead them to exaggerate their own authority to the point of bullying.
Kids who push others around are often driven by the need for power. They enjoy being able to subdue others. These types of kids are typically impulsive and hot headed and they thrive when their victims cower in their presence.
Someone Else is Bullying Them
In many cases, bullying begets bullying. A person may feel bullied by their parents, their boss, or an older sibling. Getting bullied by any of these people who are in an assumed position of authority may tempt some to claim authority for themselves through bullying. When bullying slips through the net and isn’t sorted out we allow another generation of bullies to be created. Research shows that those who have experienced bullying are twice as likely to go on to bully others.
Cyber bullying is often a by-product of someone being bullied in his or her offline life. Some people who are perceived as weak, or perceive themselves that way, use the Internet to try and reinvent themselves as someone more powerful or intimidating, they may join open chats or forums and threaten other participants. Often cyber bullying can be an extension of real world bullying too, for example, hacking into a social media account in order to display negative rumours about another person.
Jealousy or Frustration
When a person picks on someone for always being the first to raise their hand in class, or getting the best grade on tests and ruining the curve, or even picking up many of the promotions at work, the bully is probably jealous or frustrated with the person they are bullying.
Some of the things that make people different are generally neutral characteristics, but some, like being smart, focused, or creative often represent attributes that the bully wishes they shared with their victim. By seeking to undermine someone else’s skills, bullies try to create a more level playing field.
Another possible bullying situation is when the bully may actually share the characteristic for which they are bullying the other person. They may be embarrassed by their own intelligence and fear being called a nerd, so they make the accusation of someone else. Those who bully because of a person’s sexual orientation may still be trying to figure out their own and come to terms with it.
Lack of Understanding or Empathy
In some cases a person may bully because there is an aspect of a person’s personality that they don’t understand or don’t agree with. They may also have a prejudice against a person’s race, religion, or sexual orientation, and in many instances they may even think that targeting a person whom they see as exuding wrong behaviour as a good thing. This lack of empathy may be learned at home, if the bully’s parents voice racist attitudes, for example, the bully could pick up this behaviour. Also some people have psychological issues that reduce their ability to empathise with others.
Looking for Attention
Some bullies would never think of themselves as bullies. They think that all they are doing is teasing a bit, and may even be trying to communicate or even befriend the person they are bullying. These social issues lead them to have trouble communicating in a healthy way and instead turn to insults or even physical violence as a way of communicating.
Bullies in this group are often easiest to turn around, because they may be open to the concept of killing with kindness. A bullied person may be able to reduce the instances of bullying and even make friends with the bully my standing their ground and being nice to the bully regardless of how they are treated. By giving the bully positive attention before they have the chance to seek negative attention, they can make things better for themselves and the bully.
The family situation of bullies can often be a contributory factor. Lack of emotional support, authoritarian parenting, divorces, domestic violence and poor parental communication are all potential factors in the lives of bullies. According to Dr. Nerissa Bauer, an expert on the topic:
“Parents are very powerful role models and children will mimic the behavior of parents, wanting to be like them. They may believe violence is OK and they can use it with peers. After all, they may think, ‘If Daddy can do this, perhaps I can hit this kid to get my way.’ When parents engage in violence, children may assume violence is the right way to do things,”
It is so important that people who are witnessing violence at home have people to talk to and ways to deal with the behavioural challenges this creates. Counselling and therapy are often good options.
Behaviour Gets Rewarded
Most people don’t do this intentionally. However, the perpetrator is inadvertently rewarded anytime victims give up their lunch money or belongings. They also get rewarded by gaining popularity, attention or power. These unintentional rewards reinforce bullying behaviour and encourage the perpetrator to keep pushing others around.
Inability to Regulate Emotions
When people get frustrated and angry, they can usually stop themselves from doing things that will hurt others. When kids don’t have the ability to regulate their emotions, small annoyances can provoke them and cause them to severely overreact. For example, a child may be innocently walking down the hall and accidentally bump into a bully. Even though the child apologizes, the bully may lose his temper and slam the victim into the wall.
If this information has raised any questions we encourage you to join the conversation. You can do this by commenting below, taking the discussion onto social networks, sharing information about bullying and supporting those who are the victims of bullying. The more we understand about this topic the better we can help both victims and the bullies themselves.
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