Why do people bully?

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In this article we will discuss why people bully. 

We will also explore what bullying is, how one can identify bullying, how it affects an individual, and what one can do to stop bullying. 

Why do people bully?

Bullying refers to an aggressive behaviour that can harm other individuals with the goal of harming and attaining something- be it peer acceptance or power.

Here are a few possible reasons why people bully:


One of the most obvious reasons as to why an individual bullies other people is because of power- mostly because they want to attain and maintain power simply because they feel powerless in their own private lives. 

An individual that has no power in their own life- be it their professional life or their personal life- tends to exert power over other people through the act of bullying. 

For example, a child who is being abused by an aggressive parent at home might be aggressive towards other students in school who appear physically weaker. Or a man who has no power or equal status as their colleagues might bully their spouses or their children at home. 

Bullying in the form of gossip, social pressure, exclusion, and other indirect ways become a way to maintain and attain a sense of social power and dominance as opposed to others as well as a way to eliminate competition or other individuals that they view as competition or a threat to their social lives. 


As mentioned earlier, bullying can also be a way to maintain social power or a way to eliminate threats to one’s social status. For example, as a way to maintain popularity and social likeability, a person might bully others- especially people that are less popular.

One might also use bullying as a way to attain popularity by bullying people so as to be accepted and welcomed into a certain group. 

As Payback

Some individuals bully because they have been bullied and they view this as a way to seek revenge and they often feel that their actions are justified because they themselves were bullied and by bullying others they feel less vulnerable. They might bully someone weaker than them or they might even go back to bully the same person who bullied them.

Problems at Home 

Another possible reason that people bully is because they have modelled behaviours like bullying- aggressiveness, negative behaviours that hurt others from the people at home such as their parents or their siblings who are generally older. 

It is often when children face abuse from their parents- physical and emotional abuse that they model this behaviour and bully other people because it gives them a sense of power and control over something even if they do not have it in their own lives. 

An individual who is as bullied by their siblings can also engage in bullying since they feel powerless within these relationships and emulate their behaviours on to other people. 


Some kids bully simply because they are bored and want some entertainment. Usually people who bully tend to lack empathy and often use bullying as a way to garner attention towards themselves and enjoy the sense of power and excitement they feel when they bully others. 


Another reason why people bully is because of prejudices they hold against certain issues like seuality, gender identity, race, ethnicity etc, and most of these prejudices are modelled from other people within the community where these prejudices are present.

Peer Pressure

Some people bully because they want to be accepted by other people within a group who resort to bullying as well. They want to be accepted because of which they might engage in bullying behaviours to be part of the group. 

For example is a group is homophbic, and individual miugh bully someone who is a homosexual to gender acceptance and likeability. 

What Is Bullying?

Bullying refers to an aggressive behaviour that can harm other individuals with the goal of harming and attaining something- be it peer acceptance or power. 

Bullying often occurs in the context of some power imbalance and is often repeated and hostile to maintain and exert that power imbalance. 

Bullying behaviours are welcomed and hostile. Bullies usually target people who are younger, smaller, physically weaker, who belong to minorities and are marginalised within the social context. 

For example, bullying an asian student wihtin a predominantly white school environment or a transgender woman being bullied by cis male managers in the work place. 

Bullying behaviours include: 

  • physical, such as hitting, poking, tripping or pushing
  • verbal, such as name calling, insults 
  • social (covert or hidden), such as lying about someone, spreading rumours, exclusion 
  • Threatening, manipulating or stalking 
  • Cyberbullying, which means using technology such as email, mobile phones, chat rooms or networking sites to bully.
  • Behaviour at work that include intimidation, threats, exclusion, verbal or physical abuse.

These behaviours tend to differ in intensities and bullying behaviours exist on a spectrum from physical violence to smear campaigns on the internet as part of cyberbullying. 

The ultimate goal of any bullying behaviour is to harm and humiliate someone else with the intent of harming their sense of self worth and power, with the intent to make people feel powerless. 

What are the signs that someone is being bullied?

Here are a few indications that someone is being bullied:

  • Not wanting to go to school or avoiding certain social situations
  • being secretive and quiet at an unusual level, not wanting to “talk about it”.
  • having no friends or seeming distressed or weird around “friends”
  • Appearing oversensitive 
  • Angry outbursts
  • Damaged or missing belongings
  • Bruises, cuts or scratches on their body
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Bedwetting
  • Socially withdrawn
  • Losing interest in normal activities
  • Receiving more messages than usual via social media
  • Chronic pains and aches
  • Low moods
  • Anxious and on edge. 

How does bullying impact someone?

Bullying can impact an individual life in many ways, some of the major impact bullying has on an individual include:

  • It can lead to mental distress including mental illnesses
  • It can lead to suicide
  • It can disrupt one’s academic and career progress
  • It can lead to more violence
  • It can also lead to substance use, addiction, and substance use disorders
  • It can lead to decrease in motivation to work

How to stop bullying?

When it comes to stopping a bully or an environment and culture of bullying it must be a joint effort form all tiers of the community. 

Teachers, managers, and authority figures must be knowledgeable and aware of what is happening, where and when the bullying occurs, as well as what online forums are being used to bully others.

Individuals who are in a position of authority must be quick to intervene when they oversee bullying so that the matter can be investigated in a way that is professional and with an individual who has had training on the matter while also protecting the right and privacy of the victim. 

Individuals related to the victims must be informed by the figures of authority, be it parents, caregivers, or other forms of authorities- such as police if the bullying is causing violence and physical threats to one;s life. 

Expectations must be set about what kind of behaviours are not allowed and what will not be tolerated by the administration and management. Penalties must be outlined clearly and stated resolutely as well. 

When it comes to children who are being bullied, the parents must be attentive to their child’s emotional, mental, and behavioural changes. Open conversations must be had about the isuation and their needs must be heard. 

Assure them that you are with them and will help them as well as teach them how to handle bullying by practising scenarios with them, teaching how to ignore their bullies and identify teachers and friends who can help them.

Teach children how to set boundaries in terms of technologies and be active in setting filters and ensuring that your computer is child friendly. You can also discuss the issue of monitoring their conversations- make sure this is done within honesty and openness. 

If your child is the bully or someone you know is the bully, talk to them about what bullying is and remind them that bullying does have real life consequences. 

Make sure the home is bullying free so that the child does not learn and model behaviours nor do other individuals in the home model these behaviours. 

When one sees someone being bullied, make sure that you report it to someone who you can trust and someone who is in a position of authority- be it a parent or a manager, or a teacher. 

Provide support to the one who is being bullied and avoid bullying back. 


In this article we discussed why people bully. 

We have also explored what bullying is, how one can identify bullying, how it affects an individual, and what one can do to stop bullying. 

What is an anti-bullying campaign?

Anti-bullying campaigns are social movements that are drawn to reduce the prevalence of bullying within a community.

These campings seek to apply various strategies such as education, interventions, crisis management, and skills training to help spread awareness related to bullying and create safe spaces to help promote healthy social environments.

What are some anti-bullying programs?

Various anti-bullying programs are:

  • Bullying Prevention Curriculum (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction) 
  • “Don’t Laugh at Me” – Operation Respect.
  • Kids Against Bullying Program. .
  • Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.
  • The Bully Free® Program.

What is the anti-bullying colour?

The Anti-Bullying colour is pink to symbolise a stand against bullying.

What is the importance of anti-bullying campaigns?

The reason why anti-bullying campaigns are so important is because it saves lives. 

These campaigns also empower individuals who are being bullied as well as help bullies become aware that what they are doing is harmful and encourage them to change their behaviours. 


Bullying. Healthdirect. Retrieved on 11 feb 2022. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/bullying

Gordon.S. 8 Reasons Why Teens Bully Others. VerywellHealth. Retrieved on 11 feb 2022. https://www.verywellfamily.com/reasons-why-teens-bully-others-460532

Nittle.N. Why Do People Bully? Verywellmind. Retrieved on 11 feb 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/why-do-people-bully-5187244

How parents, teachers and kids can take action to prevent bullying. APA. Retired on 11 feb 2022. https://www.apa.org/topics/bullying/prevent

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