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What Are the Causes of Bullying?

Parents engaging in aggressive behavior may pass it down to their children.
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  • Written By: Lily Ruha
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2014
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Bullying happens for many reasons. The bully generally lacks empathy for his or her victims. Some children learn bullying in homes where there is poor parental supervision and where aggression is used to engender obedience. Feelings of inadequacy and jealousy are also among the causes of bullying. In some cases, bullying accompanies prejudicial attitudes toward the victim’s race, culture, social standing or sexual orientation.

Bullying is more common among individuals who lack compassion and empathy. While this may be due to an individual weakness, it is often a result of parental modeling wherein belittling others is considered appropriate behavior. Ideal breeding grounds for bullying behavior are family environments and other situations that model and encourage achieving goals at the expense of other people’s feelings.

One of the causes of bullying is poor parental supervision. In families where a child is allowed to do whatever he or she pleases, the child does not learn adequate self-control. The lack of consequences for bad behavior empowers the child to dominate others in the home and at school. In some cases, parents do not set clear limits for children because they themselves were abused as children and view disciplinary tactics as a form of abuse.

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On the other hand, aggressive behavior on the part of parents is one of the major causes of bullying. When children observe their parents using aggression to gain control over their family members and neighbors, they adopt this behavior. In these cases, it is difficult for school personnel to address bullying in the school environment because parental cooperation is needed to change the child’s behavior.

Some individuals bully others out of jealousy or feelings of inadequacy. They might resent the attention that another person is receiving from the teacher or the boss for a particular achievement. Bullying in this case might include spreading rumors about the targeted individual, calling him or her names or belittling the achievement. These behaviors are usually intended to reduce the popularity of the victim and bolster the bully’s social standing.

The causes of bullying also include prejudicial attitudes toward individuals and groups. A homophobic individual might bully a gay classmate by mocking or physically harming him, for example. Likewise, a particular racial group might bully a group of a different racial background due to beliefs about the group’s inherent inferiority. In all cases, it is believed that bullying is not an inherited trait, but rather a set of behaviors that can be curbed through increasing self-awareness, developing compassion, and learning anger management and conflict resolution techniques.

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Discuss this Article

anon339446
Post 7

I think you people are missing the point of this article. It's not on opinion. Whether you feel that the bully should be punished or not isn't what its about. The writer is in no way giving her opinion on this, therefore she isn't making excuses. This article is simply to state the correlation between bullying and the causes of it.

hotpotato
Post 5

Bullying does not just exist in schools. It can exist in offices, factories and even in people's own homes.

Definition of a bully: someone who tyrannizes over the weak.

hotpotato
Post 4

Instead of making excuses as some of the writers here are doing, we should punish the bullies and make them face responsibility for their actions.

It is the parents' fault if a child is a bully because they do not discipline him or her and it is also the fault of society for making excuses for bullying. Yes, the bullies' home lives are miserable, but what about the bully victims? Maybe their home lives are also miserable, but no one seems to realize this. We have created a society in which anyone can harass anyone else simply because he or she did not get enough sugar on his or her cornflakes.

DinoLeash
Post 2

@dega2010- I do agree that we don't always know what is going on to cause a child to be a bully. However, they must be disciplined for their actions. They also need some type of counseling, as well.

I realize that the young man that you are talking about was expelled and placed in a "special school" but what about any kind of rehabilitation? What is anyone doing to teach the bullies a new way to live and how to exist in society with other people? I feel that if a child's behavior is bad enough to be expelled, counseling should be mandatory.

dega2010
Post 1

There are so many different causes of bullying in schools. My daughter is in the 8th grade and there was a bully in her class. He would throw things at people for now reason. He started fights with other kids regularly. He would stick his foot out and trip other kids when they would walk out of the classroom. Several parents, including myself, demanded a meeting with the school board.

In the meeting, there were 12 sets of parents, the principal, the superintendent, and the school counselor. The parents of the "bully" were not in attendance. The bully had been expelled and sent to some kind of special school for hard to manage kids.

Apparently, the mother of the bully called the school and told the counselor that she could give us the details of why he was bullying. In the meeting, we were told that his step-dad was abusing him at home. From what we were told, it was pretty bad. The mother had him arrested, of course.

I write all of this to say that we don't always know why a kid is a bully or what is going on in their life. I am not saying that I condone his actions but I do feel empathy for him.

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