June 16, 2010 • 5 Comments
By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at http://www.urbandojo.com/blog
One of the common myths, for example, is that bullies victimize others because they’re loners who suffer from low self-esteem.
In reality, researchers have found that kids who bully others often have average or even above-average levels of self-esteem. Bullies often have good leadership skills, have an easy time making friends, and therefore have large friendship networks
In fact, the Health Resources and Services Administration reports that “children and youth who bully usually have at least a small group of friends who support or encourage their bullying.”
If bullying can’t be explained by low self-esteem, then why do people bully others? This article will take a look at some of the motivations that drive bullying behaviors so that we can attempt to answer the million-dollar question: Why do bullies bully?
1. Bullies have a strong need to be in control and exert their dominance over others
Children who bully others are often driven by the desire for power. They can be impulsive, hot-headed, and dominant, and they enjoy being able to subdue others.
“When children are involved in bullying as the aggressors,” explains Debra Pepler, Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at York University, “they are experiencing regular lessons in how effective it can be to use their power aggressively to control and distress others.”
2. Bullies are rewarded for their bullying behaviors
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the fact is that children often receive positive reinforcement when they bully others, which only makes them continue their behavior.
The rewards could be material, such as when a bully forces his victim to give up lunch money. But the rewards could also be less tangible. Bullies often enjoy status and prestige because others fear them. They also command a lot of attention for their behavior.
One recent large-scale study found that children who bullied others did so because they wanted to increase their popularity. To avoid losing social status, they deliberately selected victims who were unpopular.
3. Bullies lack empathy, and may even get pleasure out of other people’s pain
Studies shown that bullies score low on tests of empathic reactivity, and have also found that bullies can be more likely to develop anti-social personality disorder. This is a condition that causes people to ignore the rights and feelings of those around them.
One study scanned the brains of young people who had exhibited bullying behaviors in the past, while they were watching videos that showed people experiencing pain. The researchers noticed a great deal of activity in the areas of the brain devoted to reward and pleasure.
This suggests that it’s not just a lack of empathy that’s the problem. Some bullies may actually derive pleasure out of seeing other people’s pain.
4. Bullies lack the ability to self-regulate emotions
The same researchers who conducted the brain scan study made another surprising discovery: the parts of the bullies’ brains that allows them to self-regulate their emotions were inactive.
This suggests that bullies simply don’t have a way to control their anger and frustration, which may result in severe overreactions to small provocations.
5. Bullies are heavily influenced by their family backgrounds
It’s impossible to predict who will become a bully and who won’t, but researchers have found some patterns in the types of families bullies have. North Dakota State University professor Laura DeHaan sums up the findings as follows:
“Bullies tend to come from families that are characterized as having little warmth or affection. These families also report trouble sharing their feelings and usually rate themselves as feeling less close to each other. Parent of bullies also tend to use inconsistent discipline and little monitoring of where their children are throughout the day. Sometimes parents of bullies have very punitive and rigid discipline styles, with physical punishment being very common. Bullies also report less feelings of closeness to their siblings.”
Free Download: Special Report on Bullying Prevention
Fill out the form below to request a free PDF download of our special report:
“How to Prevent Bullying: A Guide for Parents and Educators”
This special report is an excellent resource, whether you’re a parent who’s concerned about your child getting bullied, or you’re a teacher looking ideas on how to prevent bullying at school.
By filling out the form above, you’ll also receive a complimentary subscription to Black Belt Success, the email newsletter from Urban Martial Arts.
5 Responses to “Why Do Bullies Bully? The Top 5 Reasons Why People Bully Others”
Subscribe to New Posts
About UsUrban Martial Arts is a martial arts studio in the Ditmas Park section of Brooklyn, NY that offers fitness kickboxing classes for adults, a transported karate after-school program, a karate sports summer camp, and karate classes for kids and teens. Call us at 718-287-5500 to learn more about what we offer.
Recent Blog Posts
- Your Only Limit Is You
Try one fitness kickboxing class absolutely free! Just enter your email address below to view our class schedule and details, and to request a free class. Be sure to confirm your request by clicking the link on the confirmation email you’ll receive from us.
- Urban Martial Arts Review from Jenny: Kickboxing Classes
Review of fitness kickboxing classes at Urban Martial Arts in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn NY 11230.
- 5 Ways Kickboxing Classes Help Relieve Your Stress
Kickboxing classes are a great way to relieve stress. Check out this article, which explains 5 ways that kickboxing classes provide stress relief.
- The Question Isn’t Can You? It’s Will You?
Reaching your fitness goals is often less about your physical capability, and more about your mental strength.
- Your Only Limit Is You