Kids, as innocent as they may seem, can be some of the most ruthless bullies. In part, this stems from their inexperience. Their behaviour is not yet hindered by the social norms we learn later in life.
Bullying is often seen as simply a part of growing up. Most of us remember being bullied at some point during our childhood, while others remember instances when they were the bully.
But what exactly is bullying?
Most kids get teased by siblings and friends from time to time, and this behaviour is not harmful as long as it’s done in a friendly, playful way, and both kids find it funny. Bullying, on the other hand, crosses this line and becomes intentional torment. It can mean hitting, pushing, name-calling, making threats, teasing, spreading rumours and humiliating others.
It’s important to take it seriously and not write it off as something all kids go through because bullying is not a one-time event. It’s a pervasive pattern of aggression directed at a child with less power in the relationship and can have a profound impact on their self-esteem and sense of safety.
Understanding why some kids bully others requires going past some of our usual assumptions. For a long time, we thought there was only one kind of bully: an aggressive child with self-esteem issues caused by neglect or abuse at home. We now know that there is no single profile of a bully. They can come from different circumstances and have different reasons for their behaviour.
Bullying is essentially a form of aggression between groups or individuals with different levels of power. Kids who have a desire for power and want to control others will be more susceptible to bullying behaviours. They want to become leaders, and they try to achieve this by pushing other kids down the hierarchy. They only want to engage with their peers on their terms, and if their peers don’t comply, they will resort to bullying.
Popularity and Social Status
As we mentioned in the introduction, more recent research has shown us a more nuanced image of the typical bully. Aside from the “oafish”, open aggressor, we have now come to recognize more subtle and Machiavellian forms of bullying such as spreading rumours, ostracizing and cyberbullying.
What is cyberbullying? Cyberbullying or online bullying is a form of bullying done through electronic means. It involves sending, sharing or posting false, negative or harmful content about someone else with the purpose of causing them embarrassment or humiliation.
Kids that use these kinds of tactics are usually more charismatic, have good social skills and can turn their “bully persona” on and off according to their needs and context. Their goal is to climb the social ladder at school, and they do this by diminishing the social status of some of their peers.
Lack of Empathy
Some of the kids that bully others don’t do because they want power or to climb the social ladder. They genuinely enjoy it and see it as a form of entertainment they can resort to whenever they are bored. They have not yet learned how their actions can affect others, so they don’t fully understand how hurtful their behaviours are. They see them as “funny”.
You may think that empathy and compassion are innate characteristics of human beings, but they are skills developed by interacting with the environment, and they can also be taught.
Published by Rohan Manda