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Sticks and Stones

Volume III

Why Do Some Children and Adolescents Become Bullies?

Most bullying behavior develops in response to multiple factors in the environment—at home, school and within the peer group. There is no one cause of bullying. Common contributing factors include:

  • Family factors: The frequency and severity of bullying is related to the amount of adult supervision that children receive—bullying behavior is reinforced when it has no or inconsistent consequences. Additionally, children who observe parents and siblings exhibiting bullying behavior, or who are themselves victims, are likely to develop bullying behaviors. When children receive negative messages or physical punishment at home, they tend to develop negative self concepts and expectations, and may therefore attack before they are attacked—bullying others gives them a sense of power and importance.
  • School factors: Because school personnel often ignore bullying, children can be reinforced for intimidating others. Bullying also thrives in an environment where students are more likely to receive negative feedback and negative attention than in a positive school climate that fosters respect and sets high standards for interpersonal behavior.
  • Peer group factors: Children may interact in a school or neighborhood peer group that advocates, supports, or promotes bullying behavior. Some children may bully peers in an effort to “fit in,” even though they may be uncomfortable with the behavior.

Why Do Some Children and Adolescents Become Victims?

Victims signal to others that they are insecure, primarily passive and will not retaliate if they are attacked.  Consequently, bullies often target children who complain, appear physically or emotionally weak and seek attention from peers. 

Studies show that victims have a higher prevalence of overprotective parents or school personnel; as a result, they often fail to develop their own coping skills.

 

Many victims long for approval; even after being rejected, some continue to make ineffective attempts to interact with the victimizer.

Andrea Cohn & Andrea Canter, Ph.D., NCSP

 

Try reflecting on the factors that have shaped your child's behavior.  Think of ways to change those factors that have led to undesireable behavior. 

Volume II

W ith every bullying situation, there are only four roles in which individuals can play a part:

  1. The Bully– the person doing the aggressive behavior. Bullies are not bad people, rather their choices to ...more

Volume I

B ullying is a common and unfortunate occurrence that is typically at its peak in the middle school years. It can have devastating emotional effects that disrupt student performance in school and ...more