Why children become bullies at school.

Bullying behaviour often emerges in childhood, and the consequences for victims can last a lifetime. But what makes a child become a bully? BBC Future explores how bullying is changing it’s face. 

“For the longest time, in the research literature, we thought there was just one type of bully: a highly aggressive kid that had self-esteem issues that may come from a violent home or neglectful home,” says Dorothy Espelage, a professor of education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That picture is now changing.

Researchers’ picture of the typical school bully has become more nuanced in recent years. Aside from the blunt and open aggressor, another more Machiavellian kind of bullying has come to be recognised. Children who fall into this category tend to have better social skills, are often charismatic and liked by teachers – far from the “oafish” stereotype of bullies. Crucially, these children can turn on and off their bullying to suit their needs.

Bullying has also taken on new forms in recent years. One common characteristic of bullying as previously defined by academics is that the aggression towards the victim is repeated. But the online world is blurring this due to the potential impact that just one instance of cyberbullying can have.

“Does it have to happen more than once, when you’ve posted something that’s gone to a million people?” asks Espelage. “Probably not.”

Read the full article Why children become bullies at school.

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