Bullying is considered an ugly thing to do, so why do people bully?
Understanding the dynamics of bullying is very important in finding the solution for it. In the next two chapters of the bullying series, I will discuss the characteristics of two main players in the bullying phenomenon – the Bully and the Bullied (victim). I say two main players, because there are many other players in the game, but they will be discussed later on.
From a very early stage of the bullying research, it was obvious that bullies have special characteristics. Research done in 2007 by Field found that bullies have difficulties with schoolwork, health and self-esteem. Field also found that bullies have personal, social and interpersonal difficulties, including challenges in dealing with emotions and conflicts, lack of compassion and inability to express empathy.
As the challenges bullies have are all associated with their inability to manage their feelings, it is easy to see that bullies have low emotional intelligence. To understand fully how low emotional intelligence can be translated into bullying, here are the four level of emotional intelligence:
- Recognizing my own feelings
- Managing my own feelings
- Recognizing others’ feelings
- Helping and supporting others with their feelings
When we examine bullies’ behavior, we can see that having challenges in dealing with emotions means they do not master Level 1. Their aggressive behavior means they cannot master Level 2. Their lack of compassion means they cannot master Level 3 and their inability to express empathy means they cannot master Level 4.
Two kinds of bullies
Bullying behavior is the result of a perceived threat, real or perceived.
Research has found there are two kinds of bullies – the Aware Bully and the Unaware Bully. The aware bully is rare, but very mean, and enjoys hurting others. The unaware bully is very common and uses bullying as a way to gain power, but normally does not grasp the impact of his or her behavior as hurting or damaging.
It is commonly thought that bullying starts during childhood. The difference between the two styles is caused by different life circumstances and personality characteristics.
The answer to “why do people bully” differs between these two types of bullies.
The Aware Bully
The malicious, aggressive, aware bullies usually experience some form of abuse during childhood and are motivated by envy and resentment.
These bullies function from a position of lack. They consider themselves neglected, bullied, abused and the victims of violence. They feel so weak that their behavior is meant to regain their lost power.
Growing up with neglect, bullying, abuse and violence (real or perceived) teaches them to think that in order to gain their power back, they need to treat others the way they were treated by the abusive, bullies, neglecting and violent people in their life. Feeling so weak, they shift to survival mode and use every learned technique to manage.
For the Aware Bully, living in a very fearful state, offense is the best defense.
Characteristics of this type are:
- Difficulty in following rules
- Very low frustration threshold (easily frustrated)
- Hot tempered
- Lack of compassion and empathy
- Positive attitude towards violence as a solution
The Unaware Bully
The unaware bullies, who mostly use social or verbal abuse, do not necessarily suffer from low self-esteem. In fact, they have some characteristics of arrogance and narcissism that might seem like high self-esteem to the untrained eye, but is also the result of a real or perceived threat.
Characteristics of this type are:
- Popularity in their peer group
- Leadership skills
- Generally disliked by others
- Thoughtless in action, but with no malicious intent
- Good verbal skills
- Good manipulation skills
- Enjoy conflict
- Think highly of themselves
There are 4 reasons we need to understand what happens in the bully’s mind and what character traits they have.
- To enable education systems to teach those missing emotional skills and abilities long before these kids need them
- To enable parents to help their kids to develop emotional skills to manage their emotions and frustration level
- To identify early signs of bullying personalities before kids reach teen years when they develop a strong sense of identity
- To create support structures and good tools to help kids in need
Now we’ve answered the question “Why do people bully?” In the next bullying post, I will cover the characteristics of the second player in the bullying “game” – the Victim or the Bullied.
This post is part of the series Bullying:
- Bullying Facts and Myth
- Bullying Statistics are Scary
- What is NOT Bullying?
- Types of Bullying
- Why Do People Bully?
- Victims of Bullying
- Bullying Bystanders
- Home of the bully
- Home of the bully (2)
- Workplace Bullying
- Workplace Bullying (2)
- How to Help Bullying Victims
- How to Help Bullying Victims (2)
- How to Help Bullying Victims (3)
- How to Help Bullying Victims (4)
- How to Help Bullying Bystanders
- How to Help Bullying Bystanders (2)
- How to Stop Workplace Bullying
- How to Stop Workplace Bullying (2)
- How Workplace Bullying Bystanders Can Break the Cycle
- How Organizations Can Stop Bullying
- How Organizations Can Stop Bullying (2)
- Bully Parents
- How to Stop Parental Bullying
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (2)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (3)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (4)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (5)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (6)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (7)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (8)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (9)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (10)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (11)
- How to Stop Bullying with Empathy: The Story of Two Apples