There’s Different Reasons Why A Youth Might Bully Others

A bunch of high school delinquents bully a smaller boy. One bully grabs him by the collar. Emotional and physical abuse issues in teenagers.

By: Renee Ruffin-Price

During the years when we conducted presentations about how to reduce bullying in school communities, someone would ask “Why do kids bully others?” There can be a single or multiple reasons why it happens. Some youth bully to elevate their status within their peers, to fit in with their group, to exclude others, or to control the behavior of their peers. Some children/teens who bully come from situations where there is bullying or violence at home, the youth may not have caregivers who provide emotional support or the caregivers respond in an authoritarian manner, are overly lenient or there is low adult involvement in the child’s life. Some children/teens who bully may have been bullied in the past or it’s currently happening, they have low self-esteem so they bully to make themselves feel more powerful, or they don’t know how to control their emotions, or they may not have the skills for handling social situations in more positive ways. And then some youth who bully may be in schools where bullying is not properly addressed or perhaps, they experience being excluded at school.

Children/teens who bully need support to help them address their behavior. Parents/caregivers, school counselors, teachers, and mental health professionals can work with youth who bully to help them develop healthy peer connections and to learn new social skills. Developing these skills would not only help the child/teen who is demonstrating the bullying behaviors, but also their targets, their families, the bystanders/witnesses, and the school adults. In most situations, bullying is a behavior that can be changed with appropriate intervention.

Article submitted to Al Dia Today on October 31, 2022, for the November issue by Renee’ Ruffin-Price, Community Advocate for Children.