Understanding some of the root psychological and physical causes of teenage bullying helps parents and teachers learn how to effectively deal with the problem and find solutions. Various scientific theories exist which help to explain some of the teenage bullying stories.
Genetic scientists theorize in a Oct. 2011 National Geographic article called Teenage Brain, some of the most irritating traits of adolescents are due to their highly adaptive brains, during this teenage period, which is exactly what they need from a genetic evolutionary standpoint.
Because the behaviors may have a scientific explanation does not necessarily mean the behaviors have justification in our current modern world. Nevertheless, understanding how these behaviors originated in the first place is useful to find ways to modify them in order to achieve better standards.
It is common in primates to observe patterns of alpha dominance. Both males and females fight for prominence to attain leadership positions. Teenagers are especially good at testing limits and will assume power in situations where there is a chance to do so. It is natural for any group of animals to have a leader, usually one male and one female. The same thing applies to human beings. A power vacuum exists when teenagers do not have sufficient adult supervision. A teenager with negative intentions will exploit the times which lack sufficient adult supervision and this is often when teenage bullying occurs. Once solution is to either reduce the times which lack adult supervision or increase adult supervision by putting teenagers in a different environment which has greater adult supervision. An example of this would be having them join an after-school sports program supervised by an adult rather than staying home alone, with their siblings, waiting for parents to come home from work.
Nations have territorial disputes and so do teenagers. Aggressive teenage bullying sometimes is a way to unfairly gain more territory, whether it be a more desirable seat on the bus or a better table at the cafeteria. At home, this may show up in how older siblings treat younger ones. Fighting over space and things is quite common. Another issue is violation of privacy or “snooping” by parents. It is almost instinctive for teenagers to want some space and private things of their own and when permitted to get away with it, they sometimes use bullying tactics to get more than they deserve. Setting clear limits, which may include physical boundaries, or even physically separating a bully from others, is one way to improve territorial problems.
Every teenager must form an adult identity. Often they go about this is ways which are counter-productive by defining themselves in opposition to their parents. One example is when teenagers talk back to their parents. Talking back is a teenager’s way of learning how to assert themselves, but if back-talk is allowable without appropriate limitation, it teaches the teenagers they can get away with more of it. Once the pattern starts, it may quickly escalate into full-on screaming matches between the parent(s) and the teenager. Teenagers do not naturally know how to act like responsible adults. They must learn to do so. To help with identity crisis issues, parents should help teenagers find experiences with appropriate adult role models, which may include professionals, such as psychologists or counselors, if the situation is severe.
Teenagers by nature want to rebel against their parents and then copy all their peers in order to fit in. Teenage bullying comes from fear and insecurity. There is no need to express dominance over others, especially if they are weaker unless it is to overcome some internal insecurity which the bully is secretly dealing with. This is why it is common for more physically robust individuals to attack the weaker ones, especially if the weaker ones are more academically proficient. The bully does not want anyone to notice how stupid they are, so they physically attack others, especially in front of their peers as a way of overcompensation.
Negative Parenting and Sibling Rivalry
We all learn by example. Unfortunately sometimes the examples are really bad ones. This is the case with parents who provide negative role models for their children. Abusive parents, parents who physically fight, especially where one is dominate over the other one, are some of the worst examples of this kind. Children who suffer abuse by either their parents or an older sibling are much more likely to exhibit bullying behavior themselves according to Paul Quilan, Director of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Michigan in the article Why Do Some Kids Become Bullies? One way to shift perspective, in dealing with teenage bullying, is to see the teenage bully not only as a teenager who is a problem, but also as a teenager who very likely has a problem, especially at home. This type of empathy may shed some light on the source of the problem. If the bully is suffering abuse at home, appropriate actions taken to stop the abuse protect the child and impact the bullying problem as well.
All social groups conform to norms set by the standards of tolerance within the group. Policies of zero-tolerance for teenage bullying are best supported when not only the rules say this is so, but also when the influencers in the social groups support the same position. Parents and teachers become allies in this effort, when working together with students who demonstrate high-quality leadership skills who are part of the social group. A coordinated effort between parents, teachers, and proactive positive students may effectively create a zero-tolerance environment to eliminate teenage bullying. It is a matter of setting strict standards and holding the teenagers accountable for their behavior.
Teenage bullying statistics show this is a persistent problem, but not without progress towards solutions. There is an increasing amount of teen bullying facts available on how to reduce and eventually eliminate the problem which affects about one in every ten children.