Why Do Children Bully?

why do people cut themselvesBullying is defined as the usage of superior strength for intimidation, typically forcing an individual to do something. This post will look at why people practice this form of negative behaviour. There are many things that can cause a person to desire to bully others, and the type of victim/s chosen changes in accordance to these reasons.


This post will approach the issue in seven main categories or reasons:

  • the need to imitate
  • scapegoating
  • social experimenting
  • personal emotions
  • manipulation
  • selfishness and narcissism
  • sociopathy/psychopathy 


Reason One: The Need to Imitate

Children imitate what they see and want to experience the other side of the power dynamic, that is, they want to feel what it feels like to be in power. Children may also want to vent their frustrations at other people in a sort of way as if somebody has done something wrong to them. An example could be a child being bullied at school, and then having to transfer to another school to escape said bullying, but becoming a bully themselves in the new school. Children will display superiority, which is made even worse if their parents or schools are actual enforcers or carriers of indirect bullying. This can be seen in the case of big public humiliations, which can be used as a form of order and control. It may been seen as self-righteous to those supporting it, but may be perceived as bullying and harassment. Disciplining children in front of large crowds like assemblies, and making big deals of bullying situations and the severity of their actions, can lead to this kind of imitation.

Reason Two: Scapegoating

Some people bully for the purpose of trying to divert attention from their own negative behaviour onto someone else. Scapegoating in a group reinforces the role of a particular person to be always automatically blamed, which is always unfair and immoral, but it exists everywhere in society, from school classrooms to office type situations. Language skills can often be a reason for scapegoating, where a person with obvious language difficulties or inadequacies is bullied, and cannot defend themselves as easily as someone with fluency in the common language. People will choose discrete and majority forms of bullying, that is, a bully would simply choose someone who is least like them, as well as the majority, such as hair style, hair colour, height or size and any other reasons that make them more likely to be targeted. Scapegoated individuals also tend to have the weakest relationships with authority.

Reason Three: Social Experimenting

Bullying sometimes happens simply because someone wants to experiment with their social power or attempts to align themselves with who they wish to be. An example could be an older group of girls asking a younger group if they wanted to play with them, and certain members of the younger group will accept at the expense of their own friends. They may engage in ignorant behaviour, that is, certain members of the younger group may disregard their own friends in an attempt to be ‘cool’ and ‘hip’. Alternatively, some individuals may inadvertently bully others, and in this case, the older girl group may actually be discriminated against, but at such a young age, these individuals will not know that what they are doing is wrong and is bullying. Situations like this often occur in schools as a form of rivalry and the ‘popular’ kids may notice that other kids are receiving popularity, and thus may feel threatened, resulting in their knocking others down in an attempt to stay relevant, popular and mighty.

Reason Four: Personal Emotions

One of the biggest reasons people bully others is because they themselves feel miserable, horrible, insecure, lonely, jealous and lack social attention. These people are the kind of people who feel they have nothing to lose and have completely resigned themselves to the act of bullying, occasionally fearlessly. These individuals, in a state of power with the notion that they have nothing to lose, will threaten and became a danger to others, and often to themselves. They often target those that ‘have it good’ or ‘have it all’  because they personally feel that they do not have anything. Personal emotions can range from the smallest to the biggest of issues. For example, feeling the need to bully another person because they said something as innocent as ‘my mother is my best friend’ can be enough to trigger hatred in another person. The mind of a bully is often mixed with all sorts of positive and negative emotions and thoughts.

Number Five: Manipulation

Even something as simple as being hungry can foster bullying of a certain individual. The need to fulfill one’s appetite can lead to exploitation and intimidation, such as a bigger person (height, size or status) over a smaller and lonesome student at the expense of their own lunch or their own money is quite common. Bullies may justify and rationalise to themselves that they have good persuasive skills, but realistically it was intimidation and manipulation. This type of bullying is mainly opportunistic, with people in the wrong place at the right time who possess resources or things that others desire and wants.

Number Six: Selfishness and Narcissism

Those that are selfish and narcissistic personality-wise will disregard other people’s feelings, even going as far to sabotage other people’s reputations deliberately for the purpose of social rises and elevations. These people set others up for failure and will bully those who attempt to speak out against their behaviour. These people bully and control everything, from a person’s actions to speech, going from cultivation to charming these targets into being alone with them. These people can exist in the form of bad girlfriends, frenemies and bad boyfriends who enjoy destroying a person’s value and sense of self-worth as a human.

Number Seven: Sociopaths & Psychopaths

This last, and least common, reason that people bully is that they may be sociopaths who find joy and happiness in other people’s sufferings for literally no reason. These people target and bully those who are alone in time and space. They have thoughts that they can get away with their actions because no one can stop them. Relishing in suffering through humiliation and deep personalisations may seem unrealistic but there are people out there who exhibit this.

Thank you for reading this post and if it has offended you in anyway or if you notice that someone is being bullied or you are a victim yourself, please speak out, speak to your friends, family, teachers, colleagues. Bullying is wrong and there are many platforms and bullying helplines that are free that you can contact for help.

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